It was a simple, offhanded comment at a baseball game, combined with the desire to pursue a childhood dream that led Steve Lunn to a wonderful moment of inspiration.
Lunn, a 2004 graduate of Fairview, was attending a Minnesota Twins game in Minneapolis, Minn., three years ago when the thought struck. Wouldn't it be great if he and a few friends could spend a summer attending games at all 30 Major League Baseball stadiums?
It is a dream that has been envisioned by many a baseball fan, and carried out by more than a few as well. Yet once Lunn and three of his friends started kicking around the idea, the more realistic it became. After they ultimately found a way to include two of their other passions -- namely biking and working with underprivileged children -- the organization known as Biking For Baseball was born.
This summer, Lunn and three friends -- Adam Kremers, Chase Higgins, and Eagle native Rex Roberts -- are working their way from the west coast to the east on their bicycles while attending a game at every Major League stadium. Yet the inspiring part of the group's endeavor always occurs before each game, when the quartet, while working in conjunction with groups like Big Brothers/Big Sisters and the Boys and Girls Club of America, hosts baseball clinics for children, many of whom have never swung a bat or donned a glove.
"We talked about hitting all 30 parks, but then it became something where we could combine all of our interests, like biking and doing things we believe in," said Lunn, a former soccer and basketball player at Fairview. "For us, the initial excitement was the 30 ballparks aspect. Now, working with the kids is pretty incredible. Seeing kids who have never played the game light up when they get a hit is a special thing."
The group set out from Seattle in early April and ventured down the west coast before cutting through Arizona and then making a homecoming trip to Denver. Although working with the children has proven to be monumentally fulfilling, they also have enjoyed the opportunity to go on the field for many batting practice sessions, and even took advantage of a chance to meet St. Louis Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak, a Boulder native, during their stop in St. Louis.
This week, the Biking For Baseball crew returned to the scene of the initial inspiration in Minneapolis before embarking for Chicago. The four bikers attempt to cover at least 100 miles per traveling day, and while all of them were fairly fit and athletic going into this venture, the group endured a rigorous amount of training before setting out from Seattle.
"Growing up in Eagle, I've always been much more of a mountain biker," said Roberts, who befriended Lunn while the pair attended Colorado State. "It's funny, I used to make fun of friends of mine who were big bikers, saying, 'How can you just go in a straight line for so long?' Now look at me. I spent a lot of hours on the stationary (bike) in my apartment in Denver. I attached my Xbox controller to my bike so I wouldn't get bored."
Perhaps more challenging than the physical demands for the Biking For Baseball crew was the funding involved in executing this challenge. At first all four bikers, who quit jobs in order to chase their dreams, paid money out of their own pockets in order to get the project off the ground. That sting was lessened somewhat last year when Biking For Baseball received its official non-profit status, but the group still relies heavily on donations to take care of expenses such as fueling their support vehicle, equipment, food, and lodging.
"In each city we usually give a fundamental baseball clinic," Lunn said. "It's a one hour clinic, and can be as basic as how to put a glove on. As for us with the baseball, it has been amazing to be able to meet all these players and see all these stadiums along the way."
For more information about the organization, including how to make a donation, visit bikingforbaseball.org
Follow Pat Rooney on Twitter: @prooney07