Ann Arbor boy will bike 68 miles from Spartan Stadium to U-M's Big House on gameday
By JANET MILLER | For AnnArbor.com
Sam Sugerman likes to ride his bike.
And, as difficult as it can be in a town that oozes maize and blue, Sam is a Michigan State University fan, down to his goofy Spartan hat.
At the same time, Sam has a school friend whose father was diagnosed with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a progressive neurodegenerative disease that robs its victims of mobility and eventually life. It’s also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
So when it came time for Sam to find a service project to mark his Bar Mitzvah, it was obvious what he had to do: On Saturday, he will ride his 24-speed Trek bike from Spartan Stadium in East Lansing to the Big House in Ann Arbor on the day the two football rivals meet.
“I like biking and I like Michigan State so I put the two together,” said Sam, a Tappan Middle School seventh grader.
He hopes to raise $3,000 from the stadium-to-stadium ride for Ann Arbor Active Against ALS, the grassroots non-profit that saw six women swim a double crossing of the English Channel this summer to set a world record and raise funds and awareness of A2A3.
With the energy of youth on his side (he plays soccer, baseball, football and lacrosse) Sam, 12, said he’s done little to specifically prepare for the ride, other than bike around town.
Still, he has no doubt he will easily make the 68-mile ride, even if there’s rain, snow or cold.
“I’m cold blooded,” he said.
But he ribs his mother, Gayle Rosen, that she could slow him down.
“I think it would take 10 hours with my mom, but five hours without my mom,” Sam deadpans. Rosen said she expects the trip to take seven hours, and Sam hopes to make it to the U-M stadium by the 3:30 p.m. game time.
Sam will have the support of his family: His parents, Rosen and Andy Sugerman, along with Sam’s two older brothers and an aunt will also make the trek.
While Sam will complete the entire 68 miles, his parents will take turns following in the family’s van. They’ve charted the route, and plan to take country roads.
A2A3 was founded after Bob Schoeni, a University of Michigan professor, was diagnosed with ALS in 2008. A couple of months later, friends and neighbors near his Burns Park home founded A2A3 in an effort to support ALS research. Sam’s family is friends with the Schoenis.
Sam will become a bar mitzvah at Temple Beth Emeth on Dec. 1, although he won’t turn 13 until the end of December.
Part of the process of officially becoming a man is to do a mitzvah project, a good deed for the community.
But serving the community is nothing new to Sam: He’s helped at the Delonis Center cleaning dishes, collected food for relief in Haiti and worked at the Humane Society of Huron Valley.
Sam’s ride will support the mission of A2A3 beyond raising funds, Rosen said.
“People with ALS can’t be as active as they once were, so A2A3 encourages people to be as active while they can.”
See A2A3 for information or to donate.