Father completes cross-country bike trek in support of daughter’s Solana Beach nonprofit

Peter Karch at the end of his cross-country journey with his wife and daughter Laura Karch-Gries, founder of Awakenings Health Institute in Solana Beach. Courtesy photo

By Karen Billing

It took him 65 days to ride 3,446 miles across country with more than 90 pounds of supplies loaded onto his bike, but 71-year-old Peter Karch completed his solo, unassisted journey from Carpinteria, Calif., to Assateague, Va., on July 9.

Karch took on the long mileage (pedaling amazingly in just Teva sandals) to raise awareness and funds for his daughter Laura Karch-Gries’ nonprofit Awakenings Health Institute in Solana Beach. He endured temperatures ranging from 20 to 114 degrees, 15 flat tires, dehydration, food deprivation and severe cramping.

“It is the most difficult thing I have ever done,” Karch said.

Despite all of the trek’s hardships, he said there are “very nice and helpful people in the world,” many of whom helped him along the way and offered support for his cause.

A Del Mar resident, Laura Karch-Gries, 36, was paralyzed from the neck down as the result of a car accident at age 18 and learned to walk again. She founded Awakenings as a rehabilitation facility to restore the lives and health of people challenged by paralysis.

The facility treats people who have suffered from strokes, spinal cord and brain injuries, and neurological disorders through a variety of physical, emotional, mental, recreational and social therapies — all under one roof.

Clients apply for grants and sponsorships to go through therapies at Awakenings so the organization relies heavily on donors and community support.

Karch’s ride so far has netted $7,200 and the numbers are growing.

The long journey gifted Karch with an interesting perspective to share.

“[Everyone should experience doing one thing in their life], such as backpacking, hiking or riding a bicycle…something where they have to carry all their needs on their back. You have to carry water, food, and only your bare necessities because that’s all the room you have. This is important because you understand what is necessary for your survival and what is superfluous. Then you understand the difference between greed and need,” Karch said on the night before his last day of riding. “We truly don’t need all the things we have and think we need. There are many people in this world who don’t have much. It’s important to really understand this firsthand.”

Karch-Gries, who traveled to Virginia to meet her dad at the conclusion of his journey, couldn’t be prouder of him, nor happier that he is home safe.
She called him the “greatest dad in the world.”

To learn more or donate, visit awakeningshealth.org.

Related posts:

  1. Father embarks on another cross-country bike trek to support daughter’s Solana Beach nonprofit
  2. Women leave from Solana Beach on cross-country bike ride to fight human trafficking
  3. Women leave from Solana Beach on cross-country bike ride to fight human trafficking
  4. Inspiring recovery at heart of Awakenings
  5. Solana Beach to host taste tour and bike ride Sept. 15-16

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Posted by Staff on Jul 15, 2013. Filed under Featured Story, News, Solana Beach. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

2 Comments for “Father completes cross-country bike trek in support of daughter’s Solana Beach nonprofit”

  1. Brian Dealy


  2. Lynn

    Inspiring journey and wonderful, supportive family. This is what life is about–thank you for sharing. <3

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