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Lake Erie College students help plan 950-mile bike ride to support Special Olympics Ohio

Lake Erie College’s student organization, Students Making a Difference (SMAD), has teamed up with Grand River endurance athlete and grassroots fitness advocate, James “Spudd” Sasak for a 950-mile bicycle ride throughout Ohio to raise money for Special Olympics Ohio.

This will be Sasak’s third consecutive year of touring the state raising funds and awareness for his favorite athletes. He plans to visit Special Olympians in all 88 counties of Ohio during his series of “Fun-Raising Rides.” Last summer he biked 1,250 miles around Ohio’s border while keeping to a strict itinerary.

“Keeping to a tight schedule on a fully loaded touring bicycle was an unbelievable challenge. The hills and rain in southeastern Ohio almost beat me, but I knew the kids were counting on me to be on time,” Sasak said. He made every stop on his schedule with only two close calls in St. Clairsville and Ironton.

Inspired by a childhood friendship with a special athlete, Sasak has combined his unique talents as a professionally trained self-contained distance bicyclist and a mid-life crisis to become the “Bicycle Ambassador” for Special Olympics Ohio. Sasak’s past rides have culminated with having the honor of leading the 4000+ Special Olympians assembled in Columbus for the Statewide Games into the Jesse Owens Memorial Coliseum.

“The members of Students Making a Difference at the College were key to doing the heavy lifting and groundwork for this project. They are even trying to get me ‘Keys to the Cities’ at my stops which I will deliver to the Special Olympians in Columbus,” said Sasak.

Rachel Nypaver, co-president of SMAD, also an endurance athlete, said “My sister Sandi and I hope to ride part of the trip with Spudd. It should be really fun to see Ohio by bicycle and meet the
athletes. I hope it all works out.”

Sasak departed at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, June 1 from the Medina County Courthouse in Medina. As of Wednesday, June 9, he is currently in Jackson, Ohio. He plans to complete the trip June 25, arriving in Columbus for the Special Olympics Ohio opening ceremony of the summer games. To do this, he wants to bike 40-60 miles a day within six hours of biking.

Sasak is asking people to donate $15 to pay for the $150 entry fee for the Special Olympics athletes. To donate, visit

For more information and to read Spudd’s daily blog, visit and click on the “Special Olympic Spudd” tab.

Lake Erie College, located in Painesville, Ohio, currently serves more than 1,200 students. Founded in 1856, Lake Erie is an independent, liberal arts institution that challenges its students to "get in and stand out" in academics, athletics and student activities. The College offers 35 undergraduate majors and graduate programs and the option to design an individualized major to fit career and academic goals. Lake Erie's innovative learning experiences focus on helping students to meet career and life challenges, preparing for a world that is increasingly interdependent.


Note: This is a news archive and may contain outdated information.


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