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Why retired Virginia woman is biking across US to help seniors: 'They think I'm a little crazy'

'It just kind of brings them alive almost. It changes their personality.'
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Posted at 3:32 PM, May 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-30 17:32:16-04

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. -- If you ask Diane Haupt, a long-time cyclist, she'll tell you that you are never too old to ride a bike.

For senior citizens, that experience may get harder with age, especially for those who experience limited mobility. That's why Haupt is raising $15,000 to purchase a trishaw -- a bicycle with seats where one person operates it and others can sit and enjoy the ride -- to provide the bike-riding experience to the elderly.

To raise the money, Haupt is riding across the United States along the Trans-America Trail.

The fundraiser will also help Haupt start a local chapter of Cycling Without Age, an international organization with chapters all across the globe that helps bring the experience of bike riding to the elderly.

Haupt is a retired physical therapist who has worked with the elderly. She said this program would be a benefit to local senior citizens.

"It just kind of brings them alive almost," Haupt said. "It changes their personality, being out and moving, trying something new or that they used to do, so it brings back memories of maybe when they used be able to ride the bicycle."

Her cross-country bike ride is expected to take 70 days. When WTKR spoke to Haupt, she was on day four, near Roanoke, Virginia.

Haupt told us bike-riding across the United States was a bucket list item. Though this excursion might sound challenging for some, it's a challenge Haupt, with 25 years of cycling experience, is willing to take on. She said she has competed in competitions before.

"I've already biked across Africa, so they kind of know I'm crazy. This is a little different than Africa,” Haupt said. “I was supported there, but this I'm doing by myself, carrying my own gear, so they think I'm a little crazy but they know me well enough and nothing really surprises them."

She is going to meet members of other Cycling Without Age chapters along the way to see how their chapters operate and get ideas. So far she has met with the Williamsburg and Richmond chapters.

Her finish line is Astoria, Oregon. Haupt said she has raised more than $6,500 of the $15,000 needed to purchase a trishaw. She said she hopes she'll be able to purchase a second one in the future.

The fundraiser is still accepting donations. If you'd like to help, click here to visit the donations page.