Sherwood man rides bike to raise money for hospital
George Cobb isn't spending his vacation traveling by air or by boat to some far away island. Instead, he is touring the state by bicycle raising money for Arkansas Children's Hospital.
"It's something different for a vacation," said Cobb, 46, who stopped in Sharp County July 12 on his way from Salem to Jonesboro. "We usually go to Destin. About six months ago I decided to do this instead."
The Sherwood resident said Arkansas Children's Hospital is near and dear to his heart. He has worked there for 12 years and is currently a support staff recruiter.
"When you walk into the hospital, you see families going through struggles and you think, 'What can I do to make this a little better for this family?' This is my contribution," he said.
About six months ago Cobb expressed an interest in doing "something different" during his two-week vacation. After researching several ideas, he visited a Web site called www.crazyguyonabike.com which is used by cyclists from around the globe to track their rides.
"I saw that Web site and it sounded like such an adventure," said the Sherwood resident. "These guys go across the country and camp in fields. I wanted to do something like that but in Arkansas."
Cobb began preparing for his trip that would take him more than 1,000 miles on highways throughout the state. He marked his path so the wind would work to his advantage, at his back pushing him along the way.
Cobb said bike riding is something he grew up doing in his hometown of Benton.
"Me and the old banana seat rode everywhere," he said. "Mom would say, 'If you want to go, ride your bike.'"
But the old banana seat didn't begin to train him for this trip. Cobb secured a personal trainer and began riding his bike more than ever. It wasn't just his occasional nine-mile ride to work.
"I rode a lot already but kicked it up to 30 to 40 miles a day when I began training," Cobb said. "On the weekends I would ride 80 to 100 miles a day. On Sundays I would find a mountain to climb."
"My family is behind it 100 percent," Cobb said. "There were days when I'd come home from work and I really didn't want to ride. My wife, Terri, was there encouraging me and telling me I really needed to get out there. It's like with any kind of training, you have to have a supportive spouse to cheer you on."
After months of hard work and preparation, Cobb began his journey July 9 and traveled from Fort Smith to Springdale, a 100-mile ride. The trip will end July 22 when he arrives at the hospital's front doors.
Cobb packs lightly with a first aid kit, dog spray, cell phone, gel meal packs and water. With only two biking shorts and two jerseys, he scrubs his clothes each night in the motels where he stays.
"Even though I don't carry a lot with me, if there was an 18-car pileup I'd have enough supplies for everyone in my first aid kit," he said.
Cobb begins his trip at 6 a.m. each morning. He is finished with his daily trip usually by mid afternoon.
"Nobody's honked for me to get out of their way (in northern Arkansas)," Cobb said. "Everyone has pulled around me. In central Arkansas they'd rather just run you over."
One of his brightest memories of his journey was biking through Fayetville.
"Hundreds of bikers were out in their jerseys," he said. 'It looked like Tour de France. They all came out and rode with me."
"It's beautiful up here. It's really nice. It isn't cluttered. It's all natural beauty," he said.
The primary purpose of Cobb's trip isn't to simply ride around the state on a bike; it's to raise money for the hospital's "The Greatest Need" campaign. The funds will be used for the hospital's greatest need, whether that before research or to purchase new equipment, Cobb said.
With a handful of corporate sponsors Cobb had more than half of his $10,000 goal met before he even began his trip. He hopes the donations will continue to flood in until he is back home in Sherwood.
"Everyone else is planning for me to do this next year," he said. "If it continues to be as fun as it is this year I'll seriously consider doing it again."
Donations can be made to the Arkansas Children's Hospital Foundation office at 501-364-1476, online at www.archildrens.org or by mail. Please specify the donation is for the ride.
The address is:
Arkansas Children's Hospital800 Marshall Street, Slot 661Little Rock, AR 72202