A Ride Across America Benefits NorthWestern

Bob Lee rides for a purpose: To raise money to help others.

People ride bikes for many reasons. When Bob Lee of Barrington, Illinois, pedals he does it for three: to support ALS research, hospice care and cancer studies. And he rides in a big way: not around the block but across the country. Since 2001, this now 74 year old has completed three trips — close to 12,000 miles altogether — and raised $1.35 million. For the next “Ride for 3 Reasons” campaign, Lee is passing the torch to another cyclist, who will make a coast-to-coast journey from San Diego to St. Augustine, Florida, in February 2017.


From the beginning, Ride for 3 Reasons has supported the Les Turner ALS Foundation — a longstanding partner of Northwestern Medicine — to advance ALS research. Next year, charitable dollars from the nonprofit organization will again support Les Turner as well as the National Hospice Foundation. And, for the first time, the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University will be the beneficiary of the ride’s third focus, cancer research.

“We need to be thoughtful stewards of our donors’ contributions,” says Lee. “The Lurie Cancer Center tells a passionate story of excellent patient care and innovative research based on developing specific treatments for each individual’s particular tumor type and needs. We are very impressed by this approach.”

When Jan Gierlach was a third grader at Hough Street Elementary in Barrington, he listened to fellow Barrington resident Bob Lee talk about his 6,500-mile bicycle ride from Florida to Maine in 2007 during a classroom presentation.

As the founder of Ride for 3 Reasons Lee, who was 65 years old at the time, was raising funds for cancer and ALS research, and hospice education during his cross-country journey.

“I remember being so enchanted with the idea of riding across the country,” said Gierlach, 17, an incoming senior at Barrington High School. “The dream has stuck with me ever since.”

In his junior year, Gierlach started planning his own cross-country trip for early February 2017, mapping out a 3,300-mile solo bicycling tour from San Diego to Augustine, Fla. Gierlach also plans to graduate early from Barrington High in December to create the time needed to complete the long bicycle ride.

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