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Teens pedal with mettle to aid terror victims

Saturday, October 06, 2001

By Karen MacPherson, Post-Gazette National Bureau

WASHINGTON -- Two 16-year-old southwestern Pennsylvania youths yesterday completed a 257-mile ride from Shanksville, Pa., to the nation's capital, raising $8,000 for victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Matthew Vaughn and Travis Hutzell, juniors at Salisbury Elk Lick High School, ended their ride at the steps of the Capitol, where Rep. John Murtha, D-Johnstown, presented each with an American flag.

The two boys originally planned a long-distance bike ride to raise money for a different cause. After the events of Sept. 11 in New York, at the Pentagon and the crash of United Flight 93 into a field in Shanksville, the boys decided to dedicate their ride to the victims of the attacks.

They created a name for their effort, "Pedal Through the Pain," and canvassed local businesses for support, raising $8,000. During their four-day ride, the boys were given free rooms in motels along the way. Most of the ride was along a bike trail from Cumberland, Md., to Washington. The boys were met at regular checkpoints by Vaughn's mother.

Officials at their school were supportive, even though the boys missed a week of classes, Vaughn said.

"We knew we could do it, but we didn't know what a challenge it would be," he said. "It was more exhausting than we expected." Added Hutzell: "We figured that the first day, when we were on the highway and had lots of hills, would be the hardest. But it turned out to be the easiest. On the trail, it's pretty flat and you have to continuously pedal."

The boys planned to do some sightseeing in Washington yesterday before returning home -- by car.

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