Riding for the homeless

Published On March 1, 2013 | By Alice Cook

As an athlete and sports personality I feel blessed every time I’m asked to do a charity event that involves physical activity.  There is something about getting the blood pumping and the endorphins going that makes the effort all the more exhilarating and rewarding.

Thursday’s ICycle event was right in my wheelhouse.

The financial district of Boston is one of the least likely places to stage a cycling event.  Fortunately, for all the participants the bikes were stationary, although the cause we were riding for is a rapidly growing issue.

Homelessness is everywhere.

Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia challenged the Boston media along with the rest of the public to hop on a bike to benefit “HomeStart” an organization focused on ending and preventing homelessness in the Greater Boston area.

“I wish I could join these media cyclists for the ICycle, but I will be in spring training,” Saltalamacchia said.  “The event is sure to be a crowd pleaser as our media friends are giving their time and sweat equity for a cause. Giving back to the community means a lot to me and I appreciate the cyclists efforts.”

Riding a bike for an hour next to WCVB TV’s Bob Halloran, and NESN’s Tom Caron made the trek easy.  There was plenty of sports banter and jokes to keep us laughing and moving.

“Hey TC,” I said.  “I heard Manny is going to Taiwan to play with the Rhinos.  Talk about an elephant in the room.”

“They should start making the movie now,” Caron deadpanned.

We all had a good time for a very serious cause.

“While we want people to have fun at ICycle, we also hope they understand the important message behind it,” said Linda Wood-Boyle, Executive Director of HomeStart. “The ICycle event is just one way we can simulate a fraction of the many challenges those struggling with homelessness must face.”

When I arrived at International Place for my 10:30am time slot, I realized the event was taking place outside on the street corner.  For whatever reason, I thought we would be set up in the lobby of the building.  I worried that I wore the wrong jacket to keep warm, along with not having a hat or gloves.

I warmed up just fine during the cycle, but it made me wonder about  those who live and sleep on the streets without a coat, or hat, or gloves.  It made me think of what I take for granted.

When my cycle session was over, I was asked by an event organizer to answer a question on camera.  The question was, “What does home mean to you?”

My answer required very little thought and came straight from the heart.

Like we all learned from the Wizard of Oz, ‘There’s no place like home.’  It’s where the love is, and where we feel safe and secure.  Now that I have two kids in college, I can’t wait for them to come home for the holidays, and I know that they feel the same.  It’s the place where the light is always on.  It’s where we laugh and cry, grow up and grow older. It’s “home.”

I feel so lucky to have a place to call home, but there are far too many who can’t say the same.  The good news is, there are ways we can change that, right here in our own backyard.

For more information on HomeStart, please visit www.homestartinc.org .





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About The Author

is a veteran television sports reporter and Olympian. Her experience includes 25 years of sports reporting for WBZ-TV, the CBS and former NBC affiliate in Boston. Cook has worked for ESPN, Turner Sports, and WTBS. Cook is a feature writer for She's Game Sports and Boston.com. She is also President and Founder of She's Game Sports LLC.