Saturday, October 25, 2014

Cross-Kansas cyclist’s new destination: Nebraska

By ABBY ECKEL, Herald Staff Writer | 4/21/2014

A different outcome could have left Brett McMullin in the same shoes of the children for whom he’s riding across Nebraska.

McMullin has raised money for different organizations by bicycling across states with his “Destination: Inspire” campaign, but his next ride will be for children who come from abused and neglected homes and have been put into foster care, he said.

A different outcome could have left Brett McMullin in the same shoes of the children for whom he’s riding across Nebraska.

McMullin has raised money for different organizations by bicycling across states with his “Destination: Inspire” campaign, but his next ride will be for children who come from abused and neglected homes and have been put into foster care, he said.

A former Ottawa area resident, McMullin was born with a club foot, no fibula in his right leg, scoliosis and a heart murmur. He faced multiple surgeries to help correct his disabilities, including a surgery to even out the differing lengths of his legs — a procedure that involved removing two inches of bone out of his left femur.

As one of three children, McMullin said his mother left the family at an early age — leaving his young father to raise the children on his own.

“When I was growing up, my mom had left so I could’ve easily gone into foster care if it wasn’t for my dad, who had three kids at 23 years old and, as a single father, decided to raise us,” he said. “I thank God I didn’t get put into [foster care].”

McMullin’s ride across Nebraska at the end of April is to benefit Royal Family KIDS, the nation’s leading network of camps and mentor clubs for children of abuse, abandonment and neglect, according to its website. His ride will start April 26 at the Nebraska/Wyoming border and is expected to end May 3 in Omaha.

Taeo Harris, McMullin’s longtime friend, introduced him to Christy Franz, who volunteers at the Royal Family KIDS camps, after McMullin had tried to donate his ride to the school where Harris works.

“I didn’t know school boards had so many regulations on who could donate, but I presented to the principal and left several messages with the school’s superintendent and never got a call back,” he said. “[Harris] got me introduced to Christy who volunteered at Royal Family KIDS camps and Taeo said I should ride for them.”

Royal Family KIDS has camps all over the United States and internationally, McMullin said, but he’ll be riding specifically for the camp in Cozad, Neb.

The national camp in California heard about McMullin’s plan to ride for the Royal Family KIDS camp in Cozad and asked him to present at its conference in Lenexa.

“Cozad is a newer camp and it didn’t meet its budget for last year, but I didn’t know that when I got into this,” he said. “It must’ve been about a month ago I went and spoke at their national conference and decided from now on that with Destination: Inspire, I’d dedicate [rides] to Royal Family.”

Destination: Inspire originally started as McMullin’s campaign to ride across 48 states to raise money for various causes related to children — including a cross-Kansas ride last year to aid Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City — but now will be focused on Royal Family KIDS, he said. But that doesn’t mean he would turn down an opportunity to ride for anyone who asks.

“If someone in the hospital or an individual asks me to do something to raise money for them I’ll never say no, but as far as Destination: Inspire, I want to dedicate it to Royal Family,” McMullin said.

Though Cozad isn’t his final stop in Nebraska, it’s the stop where he’ll present his check to the camp, he said. Selling T-shirts for his ride has raised about $1,000, he said.

“We sell shirts all over the place and it’s neat to see on the [Destination: Inspire] Facebook feed, people who I’ve never heard, seen or talked to in my life and they post a picture and say ‘I got my shirt today,’” he said. “It’s just neat.”

McMullin rode across Missouri in 2012 with his brother, he said, but the ride across Nebraska will be a solo one.

“My wife will follow me again and about every 40 miles she’ll feed me,” he said, laughing. “This ride I’ll be doing all by myself.”

The recent birth of his daughter made him realize how much a child’s life can be take for granted, and how important it is for him to dedicate his rides to Royal Family KIDS, he said.

“Since having [my daughter] it opened my eyes to how important it is seeing her smile,” McMullin said. “Some of those kids [Royal Family KIDS helps] will never get to do something as simple as smile.”

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