"Can't stop, won't stop." These words may seem meaningless to some, but for the past 72 days they have been the motivation for Brandon Scott Perry.
On April 3, 2011 Perry embarked on a journey that will affect himself and thousands of others for the rest of their lives. What started out as a dream turned into reality and sparked a movement - Trek for the Cause. Perry's 2,354 mile expedition for the American Cancer Society began on foot in Cincinnati and ended on bicycle in Los Angeles. At war with the weather, fatigue, his emotions, physical pain and, at times, boredom, he managed to overcome what seemed impossible.
Monday I had the chance to meet the man who has so greatly impacted myself and others alike somehow touched by cancer. Two Blue Moons, a near death experience with a sharp tortilla chip and a plateful of quesadillas later, we were no longer strangers.
CityBeat: How did you come up with the idea for the trek?
Brandon Perry: I've always wanted to go out on the open road and see how far I could go. On Nov. 4, a week after I found out my grandpa was terminal and I remember waking up and was like this is what I'm going to do: I am going to dress in all hot pink and ride a pink lawn mower across the country for breast cancer. Since that's not street legal and what not, I just decided I was going to walk across the country for the American Cancer Society to cover all types of cancers.
Olivia Doan is only eight years old and was diagnosed with a brain tumor on Oct. 24, 2010. She along with a grandfather and close friend, were the main inspirations for the trek. Olivia finished her last chemotherapy on June 19 and is now heading down the road of recovery.
CB: Were you always a runner?
BP: No, I've never been a runner. I go to the gym, but I've never did a marathon, never did a 5K or anything close to a marathon and have never been a biker. So for me, to pick up a bike 600 miles in was crazy. The last bike I had was when I was 15 and it had pegs on the back.
CB: What was the most difficult part about leaving?
BP: I knew it was going to be lonely, which it was. Unless I was staying in a firehouse, it was super lonely. If I wasn't in a firehouse, I was alone in a hotel or at someone's house. One night I just tented-it on the side of the road in Indiana. And having to leave my grandfather, knowing he might not be here when I get back.
Brandon's grandfather was diagnosed with bone cancer. He had the joy of seeing his grandson upon return on June 13. He's doing much better and continues to be Brandon's motivation.
CB: What was your lowest point during the trek?
BP: Day six, it was on a Friday and I was in Bloomington, Ind. on Indiana University's campus sitting at a bench in front of Chili's. I was waiting for my friend Andy to pick me to stay with him for the night. I'm looking at my Facebook, seeing all my friends post stuff like, "I'm going out tonight," or "Meeting up with everyone tonight." At that point I was thinking, "Am I really going to do this?" I had been doing 20-30 miles a day so it was rough and I just sat there, discouraged, thinking I couldn't do this. I left my friends the next day. It had been raining, but it finally cleared up and that was the only day I ever questioned it.
CB: Highest point during the trek?
BP: Finishing 103 miles in one day, through the desert. It was so hot, my face was caked with salt, my backpack - everything was caked in salt. It just really sucked, but I did it, I got finished. I knew at that point I was only five or six days from finishing.
CB: Most interesting person you came across?
BP: Gary Kearn, who was 68 years old, biking from LA to Chicago just to see if he could do it. He finished a couple days before I did. He ended up leaving from Chicago and biking to New York just because. A 68-year-old man, out living his dream.
CB: How much money has been raised at this point?
BP: Almost $11,000.
Trek for the Cause T-Shirts can be purchased here for $22, where a portion of the money will be donated to the American Cancer Society.
CB: Advice for anyone wanting to make a difference, small or big?
BP: Well, I don't suggest walking, but don't ever give up. I was just following what my heart told me to do. I don't feel like I'm a hero, I feel like I'm just a person who had an idea, a dream. I get a lot that I'm a hero, inspiration, crazy - I get all of that. If I made somebody feel they were big enough to take on the world and didn't raise a dollar, it would still all be worth it. Be inspired by small things and big things. If you ever get the chance, inspire yourself.
CB: Any future plans?
BP: I want to do a fundraiser for Joplin, Mo. They are good people, just like any other community. But since I went through there and they helped me out a lot, I felt more responsible to do something for their community.
On June 13 after 72 long, lonely, life-changing days, Perry finally touched down to the place he calls home. He's been busy with news appearances, radio shows, other charity events and even an interview with a measly little intern from CityBeat. I'm not going to lie, I was nervous at first because we were total strangers who would not even know each other if it weren't for my Facebook Creepin' Disorder. After the first five minutes though, I felt like I had known Brandon for ten years. I can only attempt to be half as determined, confident and inspiring as he is but for now I'll continue to help make Brandon's dream become a reality.
Come meet the man yourself June 23 for Brandon's Welcome Home Event from 6-9 p.m. at the Montgomery Inn Ft. Mitchell (400 Buttermilk Pike) and from 9 p.m.-2 a.m. at Mynt Martini on Fountain Square. There's going to be tons raffles, a silent auction, food, drinks and Brandon... duh. To make a donation, visit www.trekforthecause.com.
Check out Perry's run-in with the TMZ crew:
If Mark Twain was right about Cincinnati being 10 years behind the times nearly a century ago, it would be safe to expect the Industrial Revolution and Internet age by now to have dropped our fair city even further behind societyâ€™s advancements.
If the Oct. 8 Cincinnati Bike Plan open house at the McKie Recreation Center in Northside is an indication that Cincinnati is finally sincere about promoting bicycles as a legitimate transportation option, that would put us approximately 40 years behind the most progressive American cities in this regard. But itâ€™s better late than never, according to the nearly 100 people who showed up to participate in the information-gathering session with city engineers and design groups currently working on the cityâ€™s first comprehensive bike plan since 1976.
With the holidays right around the corner, this weekend promises plenty of twinkling lights, Christmas songs and the one gift the three wise men forgot: booze.
Jack Heekin and Tom O'Brian created
the Pedal Wagon to give locals a unique way to experience all the bars,
historical sites and landmarks Cincy has to offer. It works like this: about a dozen
passengers sit around a rectangular covered wagon with pedals underneath the seats.
Those passengers provide the power while a driver steers the wagon along. If you're too short to reach the pedals (which is the case if you're under 5-foot-3) or physical activity cramps your style, just relax on the bench and watch your friends do all the work!
Pedal Wagon made its debut inside February's Cincy Winter Beerfest, then hit the streets of OTR for the recent Bockfest. Donâ€™t worry about intoxicated drivers, though â€” passengers merely provide power for the wagon, while a sober professional directs it and controls the car-caliber breaks.
Pedal Wagon offers various city cruises where
guests will be taken to area bars, Fountain Square, and other Downtown hot
spots. They also feature Pedal Parties, where individuals can rent the wagon
for 2 hours at just $30 a person. Alcohol is not allowed on the wagon itself,
unless on private property with permission to do so (like inside Cincy Beerfest).
The crew plans to join forces with American Legacy Tours (Queen City
Underground, Newport Gangster Tour) for The Beer Barons and Bike Tour this May. For more information, or to book a cruise, call 513-201-ROLL or check out www.pedalwagon.com. Be sure to look out for the Pedal Wagon at Saturday's St. Patrick's Day parade downtown!
Thanks to the Contemporary Arts Center's current music video exhibition, Spectacle, a number of talented musicians, artists and directors have flocked to Cincinnati during the past two months to perform and discuss the power of music videos in our culture. Tonight, director Vincent Morisset stops by to screen Inni, his powerful black-and-white film about Icelandic Pop Rock group Sigur RĂłs. Morisset will then discuss his work with Sigur RĂłs and Arcade Fire and take questions. The event begins at 6:30 â€” come early to check out the Spectacle exhibit if you haven't yet. The screening and talk are free for members, $7.50 museum admission for non-members.â€¨
It's Final Friday and last year's popular monthly OTR Skate is back! Don your best hot pants and tube socks and roll over to the OTR Recreation Center for a night of old-school fun with a hip twist. Bust a move on the rink to the music of Automagik and You, You're Awesome. Admission is just $5 (skate rental included) and goes to the Rec Center to provide youth programs and scholarships for area kids. Enjoy free Vitamin Water and classic game room attractions like air hockey and foosball. Been a decade or two since you last laced up those skates? Cincinnati Rollergirls will be on hand for some pro tips. The fun begins at 8 p.m.â€¨
Northside's Building Value presents its third annual ReUse-apalooza tonight from 7-11 p.m. Learn about how the nonprofit reuses materials and what you can do to promote sustainable building practices. Music will be provided by Messerly and Ewing and there will be a silent auction featuring Building Value projects. Tickets are $20, $50 VIP. After the benefit, head over to Northside Tavern for a free after-party.
â€¨If you've checked out our cover story this week, you know about the steampunk movement that's taken flight locally. What started as a literary genre that mixes Victorian history with futuristic fantasy elements a la Jules Verne is know an underground culture with its own music, art, costuming and performance aspects. This weekend marks the first Steampunk Symposium at Tri-County's Atrium Hotel. While weekend passes are sold-out, Saturday one-day tickets will be available at the door for $20. Whether you're a diehard steampunk or just curious about the movement, this quirky event has something for everyone. Saturday's schedule includes various steampunk bands and authors, a midnight masquerade, workshops, fashion shows, a mustache parade, verbal dueling (a battle of wits) and dozens of other activities. Various events run from 10 a.m. until around 2 a.m. Read more about the culture and find a Saturday lineup here.
May is Bike Month and the Main Library downtown kicks off the cycling celebration Saturday with a bike expo. Check out various bicycle exhibits, meet organizers from groups like MoBo Bicycle Coop, Queen City Bike and League of American Bicyclists and meet Bobbi Montgomery, author of Across America by Bicycle. Get all the information you need to become a regular cyclist about town. The expo runs from 2-4 p.m. Go here for more details.
The Cincinnati Opera will perform the highly anticipated Southern-inspired George Gershwin hit Porgy and Bess in June, but you don't have to wait until summer to get in on the excitement. Saturday's Opera Gala, "A Hot Night in Charleston" will transport Duke Energy Convention Center's Grand Ballroom into the Pametto State with soul food, cocktails, music and dancing. After you've had your fill of Southern-style eats, stick around for the after-party, "Late Night in Charleston." Being a benefit for the Opera, tickets for the Gala are pretty steep ($250, $175 for first-timers); If you're on a budget, consider coming for the after-party, which runs from 10 p.m.-1 a.m. â€” tickets are $30 in advance, $40 at the door. Cocktails and hors d'oeuvres will begin being serves at 6:30 p.m.â€¨
Add a little cuteness to your weekend with the Ohio Alleycat Resource & Spay/Neuter Clinic open house Sunday. The facility has been yarn bombed by the Cincinnati BombShells to welcome new cats ready for adoption. If you're looking for a new cuddle buddy, consider adopting one of OAR's rescue kitties at the event. The free open house runs 1-4 p.m. Go here for more details, directions and more info on donations and volunteer opportunities.
Scared yet? Don't be. It just takes some practice. Bike polo is one of the world's up-and-coming sports, already highly popular in India and across Europe. According to the League of Bike Polo, U.S. bike polo was born in Seattle in the '90s, when a group of bike messengers were playing with a ball and some homemade mallets.
â€śThis bike polo court is one
the few official bike polo courts in the country,â€ť says Steve Pacella,
Cincinnati Recreation Commission superintendent, according to a press
release. Several other cities across the U.S., including San Francisco, are scheduled to open official bike polo courts later this year.
Aside from the rise in U.S. cycling culture, its popularity is attributed, in part, to its flexibility â€” courts can be parking lots, roofs or grassy areas, meaning it's easy for urban-dwellers to find spots to pay.
The new bike polo court is located at the end of Joselin Avenue off Clifton Avenue, near the University of Cincinnati, and will be opened and dedicated today at 3 p.m. Councilman Chris Seelbach will be present to celebrate the court's opening, and the ceremony will also feature a bike polo demonstration for those unfamiliar with the game.
The opening of the bike court comes during Bike Month, a country-wide celebration of all things bike. Click here for a comprehensive list of Cincinnati bike happenings.
Today is also the kick-off of American Craft Beer Week. Thatâ€™s a thing! Cincinnati has a rich brewing history, so itâ€™s no surprise that local watering holes are celebrating the creation and consumption of delicious craft beer. Tonight, Arnoldâ€™s taps Bellâ€™s Third Coast Ale â€” one of two fifth-barrels in the entire city. Find Arnoldâ€™s full ACBW schedule here.
The Crazy Fox in Newport hosts open mic and all-night happy hour every Monday. All musicians are welcome to perform in a friendly atmosphere, beginning at 8:30 p.m. The Seedy Seedsâ€™ Margaret Darling guest hosts this week.
It's Only A Day Away
Tomorrow, Northside Tavern hosts a fundraiser for End Slavery Cincinnati. Help raise awareness about human trafficking in the country and right here in Cincinnati from 5-10 p.m. There will be live music from The Flavor Junkies and Wild Mountain Berries, door prizes and more, for $5 at the door.
This American Life presented a live cinema event last Thursday that featured its standard true storytelling format, but with ample visual elements. In addition to anecdotes from David Sedaris, Tig Notaro and others, there were also dance performances, a hilarious short film from Mike Birbiglia and an interactive performance by OK GO. The theater in Newport where I watched the show was far too empty â€” I found the show more entertaining than any movie in theaters right now! Those who missed out have another chance to check out the program in theaters Tuesday. Sure, it will be a recording of the live show, but the charm and excitement of the live format will surely shine through. Without spoiling anything, the stories they were able to assemble were killer: laugh-out-loud, misty-eyed, thought-provoking TAL goodness.
Be sure to download this free app before you go â€” the TAL crew pulled some strings to allow audiences to use their phones at one point in the performance. Go here to find nearby theaters screening the show tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. Can I gush any more? No. Itâ€™s worth the $20 ticket. Please go.
Ricky, Julian and Bubbles bring the trailer park to town for
a night tomorrow! For those unfamiliar, Trailer Park Boys is a Canadian
mockumentary-style comedy series and movies that has developed a
cult following over the past decade. Itâ€™s white trash hilarity at its finest.
If last yearâ€™s live show was any indication, Tuesdayâ€™s â€śCommunity Service Variety
Showâ€ť is sure to bring the LOLs. Buy tickets here.
May is officially Bike Month, but celebratory events kick off this weekend with a Bike Art Poster Party at Coffee Emporium 6:30-8 p.m. Friday and the Bike Month Kick-Off Expo 2-4 p.m. Saturday at the downtown public library. The Expo will include crafts, bike-related books and unique bikes on exhibit such as a tall bike, bamboo bike and vintage, delivery and cargo bikes.
CityBeat will preview in its cover story next week the many other Bike Month events scheduled during May, in addition to some fun cycling tips and a rundown of local cycling infrastructure and resources. (There might also be a check-in with a local guy who doesnâ€™t have a car to see how things are going with himâ€¦)
The following are some
of the many events taking place in May, via Queen City Bike:
Howl at the Moon Ride: Explore city streets at night, top off with a party
Walk Along Wasson Way-:Walking tour along the proposed Wasson Way Biking Trail
Pompeii and Pizza: Tour the exhibit at the Museum center then ride to a pizza lunch
Cyclo Femme: 50-mile female-only ride
Bike Swap- sell, buy and trade bike goods
Bikes and Brews: bike pub crawl
Teilen Story Hour: Tell your story or come to listen
Bike Prom: a formal bike ride
Ride of Shame Brunch Ride: Roll out wearing your clothes from Saturday night
Hereâ€™s a link to the official Bike Month calendar.
And check out last
yearâ€™s Bike Month cover package here (the image on this blog is last
yearâ€™s CityBeat cover, which garnered much praise/ridicule from the Stuff You Will Hate â€śCaption This Pictureâ€ť contest).
If youâ€™re downtown for the game or just hanging out, stop by the Moerlein Lager House at The Banks for their first seasonal Keg tapping. Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld will tap the Christian Moerlein DubĂ©l Double IPA, available only at the Lager House, at 6 p.m.
Even if youâ€™re far from a modern dance buff, youâ€™re probably familiar with contemporary dance company Pilobolus. Besides touring across more than 64 countries, Pilobus performed a tribute to the nominated movies at the 2007 Oscars, collaborated with OK GO for the groupâ€™s â€śAll Is Not Lostâ€ť music video and were featured on Late Night with Conan Oâ€™Brien in 2008.
Pretty cool, right? Pilobolus is in town tonight and Thursday, performing at the Aronoff Center as part of Contemporary Dance Theaterâ€™s Guest Artist Series. Go here for tickets.
Joseph-Beth hosts staff favorite author Veronica Roth and their Rookwood location tonight. The New York Times bestselling author will discuss and sign the second book in her popular Divergent series tonight from 7-8:30 p.m. Insurgent is â€śanother intoxicating thrill ride of a story, rich with hallmark twists, heartbreaks, romance, and powerful insights about human nature.â€ť
May is Bike Month so be sure to check our our new issue, out today, for tips on traversing city streets, options for trail lovers and a lots of pedal-rific events all month long.