American Lung Association Launches Gulf Coast Bike Trek Fundraiser for Pediatric Lung Health in Tampa Bay


TAMPA — This month, the American Lung Association is set to kick off a new fundraiser in Tampa Bay with a special focus on kids and families. Named the Gulf Coast Bike Trek, this event will unfold along the scenic Pinellas Trail.

Living with asthma in Florida can be an arduous challenge due to the relentless heat and humidity, as 17-year-old Alex Kates knows all too well. Alex, personally impacted by asthma, is gearing up to participate in the event slated for October 21.

Alex shared, “Throughout my life, I was basically in the hospital every other week; I was constantly in doctors' offices, being put on medication and prescriptions that never really benefited me or helped me in any way, and eventually one doctor said, ‘you need to leave Florida or most likely end up dying.’”

According to the American Lung Association, Alex's experience is not uncommon. Kristen Niemi, representing the American Lung Association, emphasized, “There are 42,000 children in the Tampa Bay Area who have been diagnosed with asthma, and that accounts for 17 million missed school days, and it’s huge, and I don’t think a lot of people understand that, so just raising that awareness.”

The inaugural Gulf Coast Bike Trek, taking place along the Pinellas Trail, aims to propel pediatric lung health to the forefront. Niemi revealed, “We are really excited to introduce this; we have a 62-mile trek, a 40-mile trek, and a family fun ride for 10 miles as well.”

Alex, now benefiting from new forms of medication after a year away from his hometown, eagerly looks forward to riding for this crucial cause. He expressed, “It makes me feel really excited to be able to participate as a person with asthma, and I’ve been struggling with it my whole entire life, to be able to help out other children and kids who have the same effects as me.”

Trek Bicycle Company stands among the event sponsors, offering support along the trail with equipment and overall assistance. Dominic Conrad, representing Trek Bicycle Company, shared, “You know. Personally, I didn’t ride a bike for almost 15 years because I have asthma as well, so this is a really cool event for us to get involved in.”

The American Lung Association hopes to see groups of friends, family members, and co-workers signing up, envisioning this event as an annual occurrence.

Niemi concluded, “What’s great is we already have a lot of kids signed up, so it’s literally kids helping kids. At the American Lung Association, we do have a saying here, ‘When you can’t breathe, nothing else matters.’”