Pedaling for a Purpose | Louisiana native riding 5,000 miles to bring awareness about Down Syndrome

BATON ROUGE — With unwavering determination propelling him forward, Chris Sweeney has embarked on an awe-inspiring biking odyssey across the United States. Setting off from New Orleans on March 1, Sweeney’s journey has now led him to Seattle. Yet, his mission is far from complete.

Ride for Reid

The reason behind Sweeney’s ride is a noble cause: raising awareness about Down Syndrome. He envisions creating cafes and coffee shops staffed entirely by individuals with special needs, an idea he believes is lacking in the Northshore and New Orleans areas. Speaking about this initiative, he stated, “We want to get something like that around us.”

For Sweeney, this ride holds a deeply personal connection. His nephew, Reid, has Down Syndrome, and the funds raised from this endeavor are dedicated to “his future.” Specifically, he aspires to establish Reid Rocks Cafe’, a project close to his heart.

“It’s an incredible feeling. I didn’t want to just do this for myself. I wanted to do it for someone else. That’s pretty much how I try to live my life,” Sweeney said.

“It’s been a struggle”

Prior to this biking journey, Sweeney spent 12 years as a missionary in Mozambique, Africa. He faced numerous challenges during his time there, including contracting malaria and surviving a bull attack that resulted in knee problems, ultimately leading to a knee replacement last summer. After his recovery, he commenced training for this cross-country ride, a dream he had held for some time.

Dubbed “Ride for Reid,” this inspiring expedition has taken Sweeney through 24 states, commencing along the Gulf Coast, through Georgia and the Carolinas, crossing the Midwest and Plains regions, and now approaching the Pacific Northwest. From there, he will continue along the Pacific Coast Highway, with his final destination set in San Francisco.

“It’s been a struggle, especially lately, now that I’m in the mountains. Physically it’s been difficult because of all the strain on my body. It’s been a tough thing. You have to get yourself over that, kind of like mind over matter. Keep putting one foot on the pedal every day and keep pushing forward,” Sweeney shared.

“It’s not about me”

The aim of “Ride for Reid” is to raise $100,000 for Reid Rocks Cafe’, where special needs employees can work in a welcoming environment. With over 170 different donors, the group has already raised more than $70,000. However, they are still striving to reach their goal.

“My motivation and what keeps me going is knowing it’s not about me and it’s about someone else. I try not to think about myself and try to think it’s about someone else and it’s about God, who strengthens me, and Reid, who motivates me,” Sweeney added.

You can make a donation online and track Sweeney’s final leg of his 5,000 mile journey on Facebook.

Download the Unfiltered with Kiran app from the Apple App Store and Google Play to stay updated on any new developments.

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About Daniel Brown 172 Articles
Daniel Brown is an award-winning journalist from Livingston Parish. Daniel began his career in Baton Rouge before working at television stations in Cleveland, Atlanta, Charlotte and Beaumont. As a newsroom editorial leader, Daniel has helped lead stations to regional Emmy awards as well as Edward R. Murrow awards for distinguished journalism. He is a proud graduate of Southeastern Louisiana University.

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