MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee's David Graf will roll into the small town of Hartville, Missouri on his bike in the middle of a potential thunderstorm Monday night, April 30th. He'll sleep under a tent with sore muscles and blisters on his feet - all in the name of charity.
Two months ago, Graf decided he wanted to take a trip from Milwaukee to Santa Fe, New Mexico, but he's not driving or flying. Instead, he's riding his bicycle. "It just seemed kind of at a point in your life where you don't just want to do things for yourself anymore, and it seemed like if we're going to do this, it's got to be for something greater," Graf said.
The whole purpose of Graf's ride is to help raise money for Athletes for Autism. Each mile marker Graf passes means more help for children diagnosed with autism. "I know he's doing it for a good cause. I know who he is and I know it's part of his spirit, so I think this is going to be a good ride for all of us," Ronny Thompson, Athletes for Autism founder said.
Graf wasn't inspired to go on the ride for autism by a loved on. In fact, he says he doesn't know anyone with autism. Instead, he's driven to help families he's never even met. "I feel like it's so consisted with the way Dave has always lived his life. He's very much interested in doing something for someone else," Graf's sister, Amara Graf said.
As Graf mapped out his course, he planned to stop in 40 cities, covering 50 miles each day. "My thought is after day eight or 10 is it going to be hard? Yeah, but you'll kind of have an internal litmus test of okay, here's what it's going to be for the next three weeks," Graf said.
On Monday, April 16th, Graf woke up to a cold, windy day to begin his adventure. "Very excited. Not overly confident, but faithful that if it's meant to be, it's something that will get pulled off," Graf said.
Graf packed his bags for 40 days on his bike and 40 nights in his tent, and as he took off, uncertain of the road ahead, he carried hope that his ride will send a message of compassion. "Think about other people, pray for other people and keep your mind on what it's for, and see where it carries you," Graf said.
Graf knows where it's carrying him - New Mexico. He's just hoping for a little attention along the way, and a tail wind wouldn't hurt either!
Athletes for Autism is asking people to pledge a penny a mile to Graf's ride.
CLICK HERE for more information on how to donate.