Young Rochester cyclist pedals for Buzzards Bay
Rochester — Fresh off completing her first 35-mile ride with the Buzzards Bay Coalition, 15-year-old Emma Keeler is already planning to come back next year – with friends.
The Rochester resident and Falmouth Academy sophomore participated in the annual Watershed Ride on Sunday to raise money for the Coalition’s efforts to protect the bay.
“I thought it would be great to raise awareness at my school, then next year more and more people will think, ‘maybe I should do it.’”” said Keeler.
Her parents, Russ and Wendy Keeler, have done the ride for many years, and it inspired their daughter.
“I thought there must be something really nice about it if they kept doing it,” Keeler said.
Over the summer Keeler trained with her parents in the Rochester area as well as on the Falmouth bike path, but she never did the full 35 miles.
Keeler also had to prepare by raising funds for the ride. Every rider must raise $300, which she admitted was a tough part of the preparation.
“My dad’s really up front and blunt about asking people. I don’t like doing that,” Keeler said.
She did get up the gumption to announce her ride during a school assembly and put out a box so the school community could donate to her ride. Her dad also sent out an email asking family, friends and acquaintances to donate to his daughter's first ride.
“The health of this watershed is very important to us,” said Russ Keeler.
Their efforts paid off with Keeler raising $2,004 and coming in sixth place among individual fundraisers.
On Sunday, she finally took to the road for the Watershed Ride with her mom, cousin and uncle, while her dad did the 75-mile route.
Keeler said the ride went quickly, since she had family to chat with along the way.
Now that the ride is over, Keeler is working on her peers at Falmouth Academy to have their own team next fall.
Keeler wasn’t the only top fundraiser from the tri-town. Gary Johnson of Mattapoisett was the ninth highest fundraiser with $1,725 in donations.
Overall, more than 150 cyclists rode in the event, which ended with a party at Wood’s Hole and raised almost $100,000.