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Charity begins on the road

June 27, 2005

Natalie Venegas

Newport Beach resident Brad Larkins is giving back to the American

Lung Association what was given to him more than 10 years ago.

Hope.

Larkins, who kicked his smoking habit with the help of an American

Lung Association program, will take part in a benefit bicycle ride

that will cover 12 states in 38 days.

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Larkins, who is 47, is the only Southern California rider and has

raised more than $9,000 in donations from friends and family.

Currently, the total amount raised by the 34 riders is estimated

at $250,000.

"What was fascinating to me was the amazing generosity," Larkins

said. "I'm still blown away."

Today at 6 a.m., the cyclists will begin their ride from Seattle,

Wash. to Washington D.C.

The cross-country journey will include nearly 100,000 feet of

elevation climbing, with an average of 82 miles a day and eight full

days of rest.

Two back-to-back days will cover more than 100 miles.

The group will be followed by a truck carrying the cyclists'

possessions and meals will be provided.

The volunteers will begin each day at 6 a.m. and will ride at

their own pace, with stops approximately every 25 miles.

At night, the riders will camp at high schools and universities.

"It's going to be a tough physical event," Larkins said. "But I'm

pretty head-strong. I think that will be helpful to the group because

I'll take my ongoing positive attitude and let it out, even when it's

not a very positive situation."

Three years ago, Larkins, a father of four, a Southern California

Edison information technologist and an avid cyclist and volunteer,

was in search of a cross-country bike ride. It's a dream he always

had.

After browsing the internet, he discovered the annual bike ride,

and immediately began planning.

"I am very exited about the ride," he said. "It's an adventure,

it's a challenge and it's a great organization to benefit."

In preparation, Larkins, who began cycling while attending UC

Santa Barbara, took part in the annual Solvang Century, a 100-mile

ride some 4,000 riders.

On Saturdays and Sundays, he rides 65 miles to Long Beach or

Encinitas.

"I think it will be challenging," he said. "There will be times

I'll feel tired and worn out, but I'll just have to push through that

and keep going. I'll be thinking of those who contributed because I

know they want to see me succeed."

Following Larkins will be his wife and four children, who recently

bought an RV for the trip.

The days the riders have off were planned around major cities,

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