For 13 years Erik Richenberger has helped save lives as a paramedic. Now he’s embarking on an epic bike ride 220,000 feet above sea level to help deaf people hear.
Erik is participating in The Tour Divide, a mountain bike tour coordinated to raise awareness and money so deaf children whose families don’t have health insurance can get the cochlear implants they need to enable them to hear.
“I learned about the race through a documentary called Ride the Divide,” Erik explained. “A race of this proportion naturally touches the desire to seek adventure and do something grand with your life even if it is just once.”
The Tour Divide, AKA “Race the Roof” is a mountain bike trek from Banff, British Columbia, all the way down to Antelope Wells, New Mexico. Once he’s finished, Erik will have traveled 2,743 miles down the spine of the Rocky Mountains.
Between the miles and the elevation, Erik says, “That’s like climbing Mount Everest seven times. I will have touched three countries, five states, and cross over the continental divide more than 30 times.”
He embarked in Banff on June 15th. The ride is expected to take three weeks.
“I like learning to push my limits, test my mind and body against the elements, and to see if it can be done. But the primary reason I am doing this is to raise awareness of the resources available to families with children who are deaf or hard of hearing.”
Erik hopes to raise $25,000.00 for The Gift of Hearing Foundation, which provides resources and financial aid to families with deaf or hard of hearing children. Some of the funds will go towards cochlear implants, which can cost up to $100,000. Erik explains however that the non-profit is able to negotiate the cost down to $8,000 to $10,000, and in some cases covers all the patient’s expenses.
Erik sites his wife, a local elementary school teacher focused in special needs and deaf education, as his biggest inspiration.
“Marianne is the most committed teacher and person I’ve ever come across. She’s literally one of those teachers who truly inspires her students to do great things in life,” he said. “She is very passionate about her job, and I am truly passionate about supporting her.”
The couple are expecting a baby boy this September.