Saturday morning was beautiful. As dawn came, the crisp clean air was perfect for a day full of bike riding. For former Islanders’ winger, Steve Webb, he set a path with several friends that would have them start from Long Island, go through Manhattan and end up in upstate New York by the end of the weekend.
Webb, the founder of the W20 Foundation, kicked off their second annual “Spinning A Webb of Leaders Bike Ride,” where 14 riders joined together at the Kitchen Kabaret in East Hills, NY. After an early breakfast and kick off celebration with their friends and family, the riders embarked on a nine-day, 650-mile bike ride through New York State and eventually wind up in Peterborough, Ontario.
“Today is going to be a very special day,” said the always fan favorite Webb. “We have great weather and get to ride in to New York City through Central Park, which is a great ride. After that, we’ll go across the GW Bridge and those views of the city are definitely pretty wild. Later on today we’re going up to the Storm King Mountain and stuff like that so it’s going to get pretty tough towards the end of the day.”
The W20 Foundation is riding in support of two causes, first, to raise money for an educational scholarship, which is awarded to one Long Island youth hockey player who has accomplished their dream to further their education.
“I really just want to help those local kids that play youth hockey and are going on to an accredited university or college and need some assistance financially,” Webb said.
The W20 foundation is also riding to raise money for Alzheimer’s research, a disease that has affected Webb’s family. Through new studies that Webb has helped to fund, they’ve found a link to Alzheimer’s and contact sports and he hopes help fund research to find the eventual cure.
“Since we are biking to Canada, we wanted to broaden our scope, so we started focusing on Alzheimer’s and dementia,” Webb said. “Studies are coming out now showing the relationship between early onset Alzheimer’s and athletics. Growing up playing physical or contact sports increases your chances of obtaining early onset Alzheimer’s so if we can help donate money and support the research centers and hospitals that are looking to find a cure, then we will actually be doing something for a worthy cause and hopefully will help a lot of people.”
Most of the 14-member-crew would be riding through Central Park before wishing the retired Islanders’ tough guy, TSN Sportscaster Dan O’Toole and Webb’s cousin Ryan Leary the best of luck on their journey. Members of the send off crew included Islanders legend Bob Nystrom.
“I was a part of the ride last year,” O’Toole said. “I didn’t actually ride a bike. I was Steve’s support vehicle. I felt bad for him on long lonely stretches of road by himself so I figured instead of just yelling at birds passing by and cows in fields he could at least have someone to talk to if I rode with him.”
“Plus, the cause is something I really wanted to get on the bike for and that’s to fight Alzheimer’s in Canada,” O’Toole continued. “Steve has someone close to him who is affected by it, as do I, so once you put those two together and then spending 10 days with a guy, I guess I can call him my friend. Who could pass that up?”
The Islanders will be keeping in touch with Webb and the rest of the W20 crew throughout their journey, so don’t forget to check back for more information and pictures from along the way. To support the cause, please visit www.W20Foundation.org and to follow Webb’s blog visit www.w20foundation.blogspot.com.