KOMU | By: Antoinette Miller and Danielle Shea, KOMU 8 Reporters
JEFFERSON CITY – Ryan Lee Gehris said he’s always loved to ride his bike.
Lately, that hobby has turned into a mission.
Since April, Gehris has been riding his bike from San Diego across the country to New York to raise money for the organization Children of Fallen Patriots. The foundation focuses on the needs of children who have lost a parent in the military.
For Gehris, the ride is more than a fundraiser.
“Basically this is what this is about. Making sure these young people that have lost a major fixture in their life, their mother or their father, can move forward in their life and make a better life for themselves,” Gehris said.
Gehris’ grandfather died in 1965 during the Vietnam War. At the time, Gehris’ mom, Pattie, was 14 and was then labeled a “Gold Star Kid”, a name given to children of fallen patriots. Gehris’ mom died in October 2001.
Years later, Gehris is making the decision to honor both his mom and grandfather with the fundraiser “Pedaling for Pattie”.
Gehris said foundations like Children of Fallen Patriots would have been helpful to children like his mom if they were around.
“Now, we have foundations and we have systems set up in place to help these young people move forward with their lives,” Gehris said. “Where as opposed to my mother back in 1965, that wasn’t the case.”
So far, Gehris has raised more than $2,300 with his biking mission. Although he said it has been difficult, he said his mom is the reason he keeps going.
“I’m sure she would be proud,” Gehris said.
Gehris’ is taking the Katy Trail in Missouri until he reaches other states to end his journey in New York City. Gehris hopes to reach New York City by the end of July.