Dad and Daughter Team to Trek Across Maine with American Lung Association

(June 4, 2013)

On Father’s Day weekend, the American Lung Association of the Northeast will celebrate the 29th annual Trek Across Maine, with more than 2,000 cyclists taking off from Sunday River Ski Resort in Newry and finishing up at Steamboat Landing Park in Belfast. The event is the largest fundraiser for the nonprofit organization nationwide, raising $1.8 million in 2012, with a goal of $2 million for 2013.

This year, a brand new father-daughter team will cross the finish line in Belfast on Sunday, June 16. Dan and Aubrey Schaeffer, of Union, will be riding their tandem bike together all weekend as part of the Trek Across Maine. Last year, Dan and Aubrey together with Gina Schaeffer (Dan’s wife and Aubrey’s mother) and Alexys Schaeffer (Dan’s daughter and Aubrey’s twin sister) were present at the finish line to cheer on mother-daughter team, Shannon Kenney-Calderwood and Acadia Calderwood. Aubrey and Acadia, both 12, are friends and share a common bond; they both have asthma. Shannon and Acadia will ride together in the Trek Across Maine for the sixth time in 2013.

Gina explains that Aubrey is an active child: playing soccer, basketball, and softball, and also running and biking. When Aubrey was younger, her parents knew that something was wrong but were unable to identify what it was. It wasn’t until she entered public school in the fourth grade that Aubrey was diagnosed with asthma. With the help of Shannon Kenney-Calderwood, Gina says that the Schaeffers are starting to learn the dos and don’ts of managing Aubrey’s asthma symptoms while also maintaining her active lifestyle.

Through trial and error and the support of others like Shannon, the school nurse and Aubrey’s pediatrician, Aubrey has learned what is best for her when it comes to staying safe and healthy despite her condition. Gina says they now know the best time to use Aubrey's inhaler depending on what activity or sport she is participating in, and that keeping up with air quality plays an important role. 

“The Schaeffers are doing a real service by talking candidly about the challenges of childhood asthma,” said Jeff Seyler, President & CEO of the American Lung Association of the Northeast. “The fact is there are more than 25 million Americans, including 7.1 million children, living with asthma. It is a serious chronic disease that can send someone to the hospital. With access to the necessary resources and proper management, kids, like Aubrey, can lead healthy, active lifestyles.”

When Dan Schaeffer was asked what he is most looking forward to he answered, “the end.” “What I mean by that is I can’t wait to cross the finish line and know that I completed my goal,” continues Schaeffer. Dan also likes to live an active lifestyle and can remember the days when you wanted to go somewhere, you would have to get there on your bike. Riding tandem, however, is somewhat of a new challenge for Dan. It is something he has not done since he was 12 years old and used to spend the summer with his family at the Jersey shore.

On her personal fundraising page, Aubrey shares, in her own words, why she chose to support the American Lung Association through the annual Trek Across Maine, “I love sports and I play hard.  I know biking from Sunday River to Belfast, Maine will not be easy.  We will be challenged by mountains (both up and down), vehicle traffic, weather (rain or shine), and my asthma.

I am nervous and I am unsure, but I know I will do my best. Lung health is important to me and other kids like me that may have to be sidelined because they cannot breathe like their teammates.”

Dan & Aubrey Schaeffer
Dan and Aubrey on their tandem bike

Aubrey Schaeffer has set a personal goal for herself to qualify for the Winner’s Circle, which would mean raising $1,000 or more. She even dedicated her 12th birthday party, along with her sister Alexys, to her cause, asking for donations in lieu of presents. About 45 kids showed up for a day of games and activities at a local gym and helped Aubrey raise $400 towards her goal.  Members of the Winner’s Circle receive a one-of-a-kind cycling jersey, a special reception the night before the Trek, and tons of other perks throughout Trek weekend. To help Aubrey reach her goal, visit her personal fundraising page.

On Friday, June 14, more than 2,000 will leave from Sunday River Ski Resort and make the 180-mile Trek to Belfast. Cyclists come from all over the country to be a part of the weekend. All proceeds benefit the American Lung Association and help fund valuable research, education and advocacy. 

To register for the Trek Across Maine’s 30th anniversary ride or to make a tax-deductible donation, please visit Biketreknewengland.org. You may also visit the website to learn more about the American Lung Association of the Northeast’s other bike treks in Cape Cod and Portsmouth, New Hampshire.