LEAD — Taylor Ballert will bike at least 200 miles during the month of September.
The 29-year-old Lead resident is not undertaking this as a type of fitness goal. Rather, he will attempt to raise awareness and funds for childhood cancer research.
Ballert is working on behalf of the Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation Million Mile. This charity honors the memory of Alexandra “Alex” Scott (1996-2004), who was diagnosed with neuroblastoma before her first birthday.
“She (Scott) created a lemonade stand to help fund research,” Ballert said. “When she passed away, her parents Liz and Jay created a foundation in her memory.”
The Million Mile takes place each September. People from around the world attempt to run, walk, bike or swim a total of 1 million miles.
September is considered Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.
Ballert would complete the mileage on his own, but he has a team set up. “If people were to join me or want to ride their own set of miles, they can do that,” he said.
He said he tries to bike all over the Black Hills. Ballert likes the Mickelson Trail due to its ease and light traffic, but he is not averse to riding Deadwood’s Main Street, Spearfish Canyon, or Spearfish City Park.
Some people have opted to pledge a certain amount per mile, with others giving a donation to the foundation.
Ballert suggests going to Facebook or Twitter to search for #TaylorRides200. This gives people three options to donate.
Mileage for this effort may be done only during September. Funds may be donated to the foundation throughout the year.
“I did it last year. You set up a lemonade stand, basically: similar to the young boy (Wyatt Dennis) in Sturgis that set up the lemonade stand for St. Jude’s,” Ballert said.
Ballert has raised $850 so far this year for the cause. That amount in 2020 reached $5,500.
He discovered this endeavor through a friend whose cousin was diagnosed with cancer. The foundation helped that family; Ballert and a friend host a podcast called “Midwestern Fins.” Each episode features a specific charity.
Ballert had a close-to-home reason for wanting to do this biking effort for a second time.
“The biggest thing is just being able to see my three children have a healthy and happy life,” Ballert said. He wanted to make sure there would be someone to help if something went wrong or someone else needed help.
“I’ve always been a big fan of trying to help whenever I can,” Ballert said.
He is not able to measure the awareness he raised last year but said, “It got thousands of impressions on social media.”
People are very thankful for Ballert doing what he does, but he wants none of the credit.
“I want to spread a message to people that they can see what some people have to go through,” Ballert said. “There’s a kid out there, right now, that might not get to see tomorrow.”
Ballert and his wife Asia’s children are Emma, age 6; Kinsley, age 5; and Rydley, age 3. He talked about the inspiration and motivation he receives from the youngsters.
“Children always have been our future,” Ballert said. “We should be able to give them every opportunity to capitalize on being able to enjoy the future.”
His children enjoy their activities and always have huge smiles on their faces, according to Ballert.
“I don’t have any goals as far as raising money goes,” Ballert said. “I, ultimately, just want to raise awareness.”
He added the funds are a byproduct.
Ballert said 43 United States children are diagnosed with cancer each day.
“It’s the leading cause of death in kids under 19,” he added.
Most of Ballert’s riding will occur on the weekends, with other sessions after work during the week.
He would like to ride his grandfather’s bike from Lead to Black Hills National Cemetery this weekend to mark the 20th year of the Sept. 11 attacks. That is a 1967 Raleigh 10-speed, which is a road bike.
“If I can physically do it, I plan on riding the entire Mickelson (Trail) on the 26th of this month,” Ballert said. This trail spans 109 miles from Edgemont to Deadwood.
He rides two other bikes. One is a 2005 mountain bike, with another being a 1955 Schwinn Stingray with a banana seat.
Ballert will have shirts with a “Taylor Rides 200” logo and mention of Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation’s Million Mile. This logo also flies on a flag attached to his bike.
He performs exploration work for Dakota Territory Resources Corps in Lead.
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