For 6-year-old Brody – the youngest cyclist at this year’s Courage Classic – there are two main thoughts driving his desire to ride in his first bike tour: helping kids and eating candy.
“We’ve been talking a lot about the candy station,” said Brody’s mother, Dr. Edith Zemanick. Brody also got a bigger bike about two months ago, so he can now ride on bike trails with his family.
“He doesn’t know it, but he’s in training,” Dr. Zemanick added with a laugh.
Dr. Zemanick is a pulmonologist at Children’s Hospital Colorado and the co-captain of the Breathing Institute’s Courage Classic bike team, the Pulmonary Pedalers.
Although she and her husband, Steve, have participated in the event for several years – she has ridden five times and he eight - this is the first time her whole family will ride together. “We love the event,” she said. “It’s so great to see the families riding together. In previous years, we’ve watched Team Courage, a group of riders made up of current and former patients and volunteers, coming in to Copper and talk about the tour, the signs on people’s jerseys and why they are riding.”
For the Zemanick family, courage is all about perseverance and continuing to try no matter how hard the challenge is. Dr. Zemanick said she and her family see it on display every year at the event – and she sees it every day at Children’s Colorado.
Most of the children Dr. Zemanick treats have cystic fibrosis, a chronic, life-shortening genetic disease that impacts breathing and nutrition. The condition requires daily intensive treatments in order for kids to stay as healthy as possible. “True perseverance,” Dr. Zemanick said.
She said that the benefits of having all of her children, including Brody’s older sister, 10-year-old Casey, and brother, 8-year-old Ben, ride in the Courage Classic bike tour extend even beyond the worthy cause of helping Children’s Colorado and its mission.
She and her husband, a lawyer who initially cycled in Courage Classic with the Wheels of Justice Team, also use the event as a springboard to talk about philanthropy and giving back with their children.
“We talk about fundraising, introducing those lessons and ideas,” said Dr. Zemanick. “Raising money for Courage Classic is a great way to help our kids begin to understand those concepts.”
The Zemanicks encourage their children to have their own money to give to organizations, such as Children’s Colorado, and teach them how to budget and save for these generous expenses.
Dr. Zemanick said she hopes that people will see from her youngest son’s ride that everyone, regardless of age or ability, can participate in the Courage Classic.
“So many people are intimidated to ride before they’ve been a part of the event,” she said. “But once they see it, they won’t be. There are all different abilities up there. It’s so inspiring.”
Brody’s family is bringing a tagalong bike with them, just in case the little boy runs out of energy. But Dr. Zemanick is confident that he will pedal to the finish, especially with perseverance – and a little candy as the prize awaiting him at the end.