Determined to show that handicaps are not always limiting, Pete Zeidner, dealing with serious case of cerebral palsy, rode a recumbent bicycle with joy and purpose. Pete started the Pedal-with-Pete Foundation in 1993 with the goal to raise $1,000,000 for cerebral palsy (CP) research. Under his leadership, we reached that goal in 2015! We are now at $1million and counting for CP research. Pete’s perseverance and that of many others with CP inspire our efforts!
This timeline shows milestones in the foundation’s history.
Background and History:
In the early 1980s a young man came to Kent State University to study marketing. He came in a wheelchair with cerebral palsy. He came because by that time, KSU had established itself as an accessible campus. The young man’s name was and is Peter Zeidner, known to family and friends as Pete.
Upon graduation in 1986, Pete started job hunting and sent more than the requisite number of resumes and went on a number of interviews. Though the desired response was that attained by countless numbers of his classmates, he was offered none. Pete was disheartened. Some part-time employment was forthcoming through members of his church. It was less than satisfying because he wanted to do more, to be all that he can, and to contribute more to society. What could he do?
Friends and family worked together to get Pete into a three wheeled recumbent bike. It was a godsend. He told his pastor that for the first time, he could keep up with his peers! It provided the impetus for an idea: Pete would ride to collect money for cerebral palsy research. The Elks Clubs of Ohio were of great help for the initial attempt. He rode 1,001 miles around the edges of Ohio and was able to collect $10,000 which was contributed to Northeast Ohio Universities College of Medicine for research there.
Pete developed a grander notion: he would ride across the USA and collect $1,000,000! With that in mind, he founded Pedal-with-Pete in 1993 and the requisite 501c (3) (non-profit) status was obtained. From 1993 to 1995, Pete worked to get the logistics in order. But, the logistics turned out to be overwhelming. It could not be made to happen.
Not to be thwarted, Pete the Pedal-with-Pete Foundation changed gears, took another route, and got back on their bikes (we know, too many metaphors).
Funds could be raised for CP research through cycling and walking events! In 1995, the first of the fundraising event was held in Kent, Ohio. It was a start and success grew with each year. Pete would ride at least part of the way with the riders each spring.
Best of all, Pete found a researcher who cared about people who have CP, and was doing research to help people who live with CP every day. Dr. Leland Albright was one of the first cerebral palsy researchers, and his work to develop the Baclophen Pump was funded partially by some of the first dollars raised by Pedal-with-Pete!
In 1998, a small group in Emmetsburg, Iowa chose to begin an annual bike ride to raise funds for Pedal-with-Pete.
Then in 1999, while participating in the Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure ride, tragedy struck. Pete was coming down a hill, swerved to avoid a vehicle, turned over the bike and broke vertebra C1 and C2 in his neck. It effectively grounded him. But his determination was not diminished.
In 2001, largely upon the initiative of Pete’s brother, Chris Zeidner, a highly successful ride in Columbus, Ohio was begun.
The PwP Headquarters had been located in Kent from 1993 until 2009. In 2010, the headquarters shifted to the Columbus, Ohio area.
Over the years, research to help people with cerebral palsy grew by many orders of magnitude, along with the reputation of Pedal-with-Pete in their communities where the events were held, but more importantly, among the research community! The grants, at $25,000 – $35,000 each, might only fund a SEED grant, where a researcher is exploring a new idea. But, there are almost no SEED grant funders out there, and a researcher desperately needs to do the pilot research before they can proceed with the larger effort that might be funded by the NIH or CDC. Pedal-with-Pete makes a difference!
In late 2015, Pete’s grand notion was accomplished: together, the events have contributed more than $1,000,000 to cerebral palsy research. This is only possible because of the generous sponsor and volunteer contributions, and the rider commitment to the cycling events held in Kent and Columbus, Ohio, and Emmetsburg, Iowa. Over the course of the last 8 years, PwP has supported 23 grants. To make this milestone even more grand for PwP, Pete completed his autobiography: It Sucks to be a Gimp: Pedaling to Freedom within the same year, and turned over the subsequent publishing and profits to Pedal-with-Pete, and thus, cerebral palsy research.