Wheels of Progress
A Marina del Rey teen is biking 130 miles to raise money for firefighters
By Gary Walker
With lights flashing and sirens blaring, the big red fire engines of L.A. Fire Station 62 in Mar Vista will head west along Venice Boulevard on Saturday morning as part of an escort reserved almost exclusively for fallen comrades, prominent elected officials or high-profile dignitaries.
But this escort isn’t for the likes of President Obama. It’s for a 14-year-old Marina del Rey resident who aspires to, in his own words, “help people who need help.”
Casey Maclean will be embarking on his third annual charitable bicycle ride, this time raising funds for the Los Angeles City Fire Department Foundation (supporting training, equipment and youth programs), Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles and his own college education fund.
He plans to pedal 130 miles down the coast from Fire Station 62 to La Jolla over two days.
A student at New West Charter School, Casey raised $6,000 with last year’s ride. This year he’s already surpassed the $8,000 mark by holding a silent online auction and collecting donations through Go Fund Me.
“He started [the rides] all by himself since he was 12. It’s really nice to see him occupied and busy and doing things for others,” said his mother, Tammi Casey.
The fire department escort is fitting because the young cyclist aspires to be a firefighter. Casey lived near Station 62 before moving to the marina and asked Capt. Donald Semenza, the station’s highest-ranking officer, if firefighters would escort him to the bike path on his first ride.
On his journey south, Casey plans to stop at as many fire stations as possible.
“I can have a break, chat with them and talk about what I am doing. That’s one of the best parts of the ride, and having the escort from Station 62 is really cool too,” he said.
Casey was inspired to raise money through cycling after he saw a television show about a teen who was biking across the country to raise money for his own personal charity. Casey decided to stay closer to home for his first ride— coastal Santa Barbara.
“I thought that might be too hard, so I started with 100 miles,” he said.
After Saturday’s escort through Mar Vista, Venice and Marina del Rey, Casey plans to take the beach bike path south. He’s riding a specialized Allez Elite 10-speed and wearing cycle gear donated by Italian cycling clothier Santini SMS.
In addition to Santini SMS, GoPro, Whole Foods, Beyond Meat, Outlaw Graphix, Wheel Works and social media ad agency Inadmark are sponsoring his San Diego ride.
Casey will have company on the second leg of his journey.
Whole Foods Southern Pacific Region President Patrick Bradley, who lives in Orange County, has his Trek Madone racing bike ready to go.
Bradley learned about the ride for charity after Casey visited the Whole Foods store in West Los Angeles to purchase gift cards for a fundraiser at his elementary school. He mentioned his upcoming race to the store’s marketing manager at the time, Katina Stallworth, who in turn told Bradley.
“When I heard about it, it reminded me of when I was 12 years old. He was so beyond his years in terms of communication and how he explained the charity aspect of his ride,” Bradley said.
One of the most challenging portions of the ride to La Jolla will be near Torrey Pines, Casey said.
“It’s a really big hill. It took me 21 minutes to climb and it’s only a mile long,” he said.
Casey returns to Marina del Rey on June 27, just in time to celebrate his birthday the following day.
Visit mybikeride.net to contact Casey, donate to the cause and follow his fundraising progress.