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September 6, 1999

Journey raises money to fight cerebral palsy

After a start in San Francisco, Conrad Evans is biking his way across the country to raise awareness about cerebral palsy. Evans, who is from England and was born with cerebral palsy, said he is undertaking the trip mostly because it's something he has always wanted to do. Photo by Tim Thompson of the Missoulian.


By BETSY COHEN of the Missoulian

Coast to coast on a tricycle, for a cause

Come November, Englishman Conrad Evans will have seen more of America than most Americans.

He's on a four-month journey many patriots only dream of: a coast-to-coast tour of small-town USA. And he's riding for another reason: to raise awareness of a disorder that crippled him at birth.

Aboard a 1956 Higgins tricycle, Evans is pedaling his way from his starting point in San Francisco. His goal is to make Virginia Beach, Va., by Nov. 16. He began his trip Aug. 2.

"I'm doing this to raise the awareness of cerebral palsy and for people who have it to let them know they can do something like this," Evans said during a stopover in Missoula on Sunday. "By raising money, I hope to help other people who are in a worse position or who are not as fortunate."

Evans' cerebral palsy, which affects the central nervous system, left him with limited use of his right hand and impaired mobility in his right leg.

Now that he's stateside, Evans, 26, said his perceptions of Americans "have been blown out of the water."

"I didn't think people would be quite as friendly as they have been. I've been amazed and they've been amazed at what I'm doing," he said. Evans pedaled up the coast to Oregon and sliced through the state on lonely highways to Idaho, then rode into Missoula from Brownlee Dam.

Evans said he is also surprised by the landscape of the American West.

"It is just so vast. It's a scale we Brits don't comprehend because in Britain it's all very compact."

Evans said his trek is sponsored by Pepsi Co., British Sky Television and private donations. Before he left his native land, Evans said he raised more than $6,000 in donations for SCOPE, the British equivalent of the United Cerebral Palsy Association. Now that he is here, he is working with the American association to set up an account for pledges that would go directly to the organization.

Evans' hometown paper, The Bucks Herald in Buckinghamshire, about 40 miles north of London, is keeping his community updated with weekly stories about his travels.

"I don't see it as a big challenge - it is just a dream of mine," Evans said. And the dream is unfolding better than expected.

"I love the small towns. They appear out of nowhere and appear to have nothing - they're just there and they survive. And the people are so nice, they can't do enough for you. You see a totally different America that what is portrayed to the outside."

Once he touches the Atlantic Ocean in November, he'll fly to his uncle's home in Tampa for the grand finale of his American experience: a Thanksgiving feast.

Then it's back home to England where he'll plan the next adventure. "I want to bike around the world," he said.