FIJIS to bike across America for Alzheimer's
By Justin Cave

Posted on January 1, 0001 12:00 AM

Justin Paul Cave is a resident of Glendale in Hardin County and a student at Western Kentucky University where he is Big Brother Coordinator for his fraternity. He is a student in a communications class taught by Jim Turner of The LoJo. This goes along with Mike Mallory's recent Guest Article about the effects of Alzheimer's.

During the upcoming summer, I will take up the challenge of riding a bicycle across America. From late May through July, I will journey from Oceanside, Cal. to Yorktown, Va., a distance of nearly 3,200 miles. I am part of a group of six riders called Fijis Across America. Our main goal for riding cross-country is to raise money and awareness for the Alzheimer’s Association.
Currently, Alzheimer’s disease ranks itself as the seventh leading cause of death in America and one-eighth of Americans over 65 years will develop it. The sad thing about this is that no cure currently exists today. However, researchers say a cure is near-- problem is....they do not have the proper funding.

How did this ride come about?
My friend Tyler Jury from Elizabethtown came up with the idea to do a charity bike ride for Alzheimer’s a few years ago when his grandfather began suffering from the disease. He planned to organize a fund-raising event to benefit Alzheimer’s in honor of his grandfather. As he began planning the ride last June, his grandfather, Barrett G. Cummings, passed away. With renewed resolve to be a part of finding an end to Alzheimer’s disease, Tyler formed the group Fijis Across America.

Why the name Fijis Across America?
As students at Western Kentucky University, Tyler and I are founding members of the Chi Eta chapter of Phi Gamma Delta, or “FIJI” fraternity. In addition, five of our six riders are founders of the chapter, so the consensus pick for the name became FIJIS Across America.

How did I become involved?
I met Tyler in 2009 when we became founding fathers of our fraternity at WKU. I am honored to call Tyler one of my close friends, and I was very excited when I heard about this cycling endeavor. I immediately jumped on board and am thoroughly
excited in not only promoting our cause in raising awareness for Alzheimer’s, but I am using the ride as an opportunity to strengthen my relationship with Christ.

What is being done to prepare?
First and foremost, each rider is training to prepare for the terrain we will tackle this
summer. We will be spending six to eight hours a day in the saddle and climbing thousands of feet in elevation some days. The second, and equally important part of our preparation, is planning logistics. We must map the route day by day, plan where we will sleep, plot resources such as groceries and bike shops, and plan a host of other details that will be vital to our success this summer. By contacting Alzheimer’s Association chapters, cycling shops, and members of our fraternity nationwide, we have been able to network enough to gain the support we will need.

The last part of our preparation is the most important for the success of our ride: fund raising. We have contacted local and national businesses in hopes of finding sponsors. We’ve had some success thus far with sponsors, and are continuing to search for financial support. Our objective is to use all our resources to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s disease and to raise money for our cause, which is where articles like this come into play.

Where can I learn more?
Our website is There you can see our route, learn about each rider, keep up with us by reading our blog, and donate to the Alzheimer’s Association electronically. The site has links with more information about the disease and training of each rider, as well as video blogs and how to become a fan on Facebook. Be sure to visit our website and Facebook page often to stay updated!

What can be done to help?
One way you can help with fund raising is to donate to me directly to help cover my ride expenses. Just like with any philanthropic effort, finding a way to cover your own expenses can be a real concern. We have budgeted it will take $1,500 for each rider to complete the trip. Once these expenses are covered, the ride becomes a breeze. Your workplace can also choose to be a corporate sponsor. The benefits of becoming a corporate sponsor are listed on our website at under “Become a Sponsor”. All donations are tax deductible, and I can provide a receipt to you if you wish to use it for tax purposes.

You can also choose to donate directly to the Alzheimer’s association for our event. You can do this by visiting our website at and clicking “Donate Here” to make a contribution to the Alzheimer’s Association. We have t-shirts and wristbands for sale in our Store on the website. Wearing our logo would be a great first step to spreading the word about our ride and helping us reach our goal.

Another way to donate is to make a pledge to support an individual rider on the attached form provided with this letter. This would entail pledging to donate an amount per mile ridden and then contributing a final amount at the end of the ride this July.

A last but equally helpful way of support would be to provide an in-kind donation. Instead of money, we can accept any items that will benefit our ride, from equipment such as jerseys and bicycle parts to large items like hotel stays and frequent flyer miles. To make an in-kind donation, contact Tyler at or me at

I appreciate the time you have spent reading this. I hope you can see how much effort we are putting in to make our ride a success by raising money for the Alzheimer’s Association. I also hope that you can find a way to aid me in this effort. Thanks for your support and prayers for our success.
Tyler Jury adds:
On July 9, 2008 (my 18th birthday) I sat down and made out a list of “50 things I want to do before I die”, and it just so happened that cycling across America was #7 on this list. This packet has been assembled to tell you about how one of my biggest dreams has turned into a reality and how you can help make a difference in our local communities, across the Commonwealth of Kentucky, and throughout the nation.
In the spring of 2005 my grandfather, Barrett Cummings, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Being his only grandchild I was very close with my Papaw and was able to spend a lot of time with him. During the summer we would start off our days with a bowl of ‘Honey Bunches of Oats’ and then proceed to work in the garden and sell our produce at a vegetable stand he helped me with. My grandfather had served in the Air Force and as a firefighter in his younger years. He owned his own construction business and built the house that I was raised in. He was a deacon in his local church, served his local Masonic Lodge as Grand Master for a year. Over the next four years I was forced to watch my grandfather slowly dwindle away as the effects of Alzheimer’s became more severe.
Watching the effect this had on my family was very tough. Every moment my mother had off work was spent at my grandparents' house helping out. My grandmother hired a woman to assist her in caring for my grandfather throughout the week, and he even qualified for help from Hospice for some time. Needless to say, we did everything we could to help him, but in the end it was not enough. When my Papaw passed away, he was a completely different man. He had not known what time of the day or day of the week it was for the past several years. His entire life he had weighed a healthy 180 pounds, but when the men from the funeral home arrived on July 10, 2009, he weighed in at 78 pounds. He had used profanity towards my family members and me on numerous occasions; before I was 15 years old I had never heard a curse word roll off of his lips.
Seeing the impact Alzheimer’s disease had on my grandfather inspired me to do something to honor his life and to raise money to fund research into a disease that devastates so many. That is how Fijis Across America came about. In May 2009 I used my textbook money to buy my first road bike (which was older than me) and start training. I had aspirations to cycle across country and raise money for Alzheimer’s research. In retrospect- I had no idea what I was getting myself into. With my grandfather’s death in July came a lot of determination and motivation. I was able to get friends from high school and college to buy into the ride and commit to ride as well. We have partnered with the Greater Kentucky/ Southern Indiana Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association to help out with this ride. Our goal is to raise $75,000 to benefit Alzheimer’s research and to raise awareness across the country about the disease. In doing this we hope to represent the Alzheimer’s Association, our universities, and the organizations we are affiliated with in the best way possible. We are doing this in memory of my grandfather, but will also be riding in memory of all of those who have passed away due to Alzheimer’s disease or are currently living with it.

Copyright © The Logan Journal 2009 - 2019