Riding for Sight: NHL Ref Dan O'Rourke's Cross-Country Fundraiser

July 27, 2023

Dan O'Rourke

Dan O'Rourke, an NHL referee, is presently bike touring 70 miles per day over 45 days from Santa Monica, California, to Chicago, Illinois, along Route 66. His objective? for the benefit of the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), to raise $250,000.

The experience of vision loss in his own family served as O'Rourke's motivation. Retinitis pigmentosa, a rare eye illness that progressively eats away at the retina, was identified in his father Tom. O'Rourke's grandfather, whom he had never met, probably had the same ailment.

Despite his limitations, Tom O'Rourke never let his vision loss hold him back from activities with his kids. "He never once told me or my brother, 'No, I can't do that because I can't see.' He would do it," O'Rourke recalled. While Tom resisted aids like canes or Braille for years, his perseverance left a strong impression on his son.

Now, Dan O'Rourke is channeling that same determination into his monumental bike tour to help the next generation. The NFB supports independence and full potential for blind individuals through programs like summer camps that teach Braille and technology skills.

"One of the reasons I'm doing this is to raise money for the kids to get to go to those camps and learn Braille and learn the technologies and things that may assist them in fulfilling whatever goals they may have," said O'Rourke. He remembers a touching video from kids at one NFB camp, peering excitedly at maps of his Route 66 route.

O'Rourke has diligently trained for his trek with daily 60-70 mile rides. He'll pedal up to 70 miles a day for 3 days straight, then take a rest day to recover. O'Rourke left home on July 19 and will officially kick off his ride on today, July 27 - his grandfather's birthday.

The journey will be filled with challenges, from scorching desert heat to equipment issues. But O'Rourke will draw strength thinking of the NFB kids and his father's example. "That's how I came about knowing that I could do this, is the stubbornness that my dad instilled in us," he said. "Don't accept it just because somebody tells you you can't."

At Cycle Touring Life, we're proud to sponsor O'Rourke's ride by providing WOHO bike touring bags engineered for long journeys. We'll also donate profits from all WOHO bag sales using the code DANfortheblind to the NFB.

O'Rourke will be documenting his travels through Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Amarillo, Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Springfield and more. Follow the adventure on his Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Watch for photos of iconic Route 66 landmarks and O'Rourke meeting locals at community events.

We hope our cycling community will show support by using code DANfortheblind at cycletouring.shop. Every dollar helps O'Rourke reach his ambitious $250,000 fundraising goal. Not only will he change lives at NFB camps, but his ride promotes independence for the visually impaired of all ages.

At Cycle Touring Life, we share O'Rourke's belief in supporting people to live their passions despite obstacles. We wish him safe travels and can't wait to see him cross the finish line in Chicago! His ride exemplifies the theme of our company blog this month - "Endurance for a Cause."

O'Rourke's long days in the saddle won't be easy. But he'll draw inspiration from NFB kids and his father, who never accepted limitations. Follow O'Rourke's journey to support the blind community and their full potential. Let's help this NHL legend reach his goal!

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