Age doesn’t mean a thing when it comes to the friendship between Theodore Hale, 22, of Kettering and Glenn Stoops, 80, of Oakwood. The duo enjoys riding bikes, giving blood and traveling by train.
This 10-year-long friendship has taken them both to some amazing places and will culminate this summer with a trip to Colorado to bike the Independence Pass to celebrate Hale’s graduation from Wright State and Stoops’ 81st birthday.
Independence Pass, also known as Hunter Pass, is a cycling mecca for many riders. It’s long and features numerous elevation changes. For Hale and Stoops, the adventure begins July 27 as they travel by train to Glenwood Springs, Colorado. They plan to bicycle 145.6 miles in four days with an elevation change of 10,140 feet.
The duo has been on 40-50 bike rides together in the last 10 years. Their friendship began in Oakwood one summer at the pool. Hale lived there when he was young; Stoops has lived in Oakwood for 45 years. Hale laughed along as Stoops recalls their first meeting.
“About 10 years ago, I met this little kid bouncing around in the pool very excitedly, very enthusiastically and he adopted me. Then he asked me to teach him how to go on long bike rides,” he said.
Their first bike ride in 2012 began at Girl Scout Park in Beavercreek, then out to Xenia, to Young’s Dairy in Yellow Springs, and back. The ride took around seven hours to complete. After that ride, Hale was hooked.
“That first ride feeling. Just the feeling I got when I got it done. My first-ever long bike ride,” Hale said.
Stoops began riding when he lived in California in the 1970s. He rode his bike to work rain or shine. He began going on longer rides after his wife suggested he bike the Huffman bike ride, where bikers ride for 100 miles. Stoops has done the ride for 44 straight years.
Bike riding isn’t the only thing the friends do together. Both have been donating blood at the Community Blood Center. Stoops since an accident in 1979 caused him to have two blood transfusions, and Hale since he was finally able to on his 14th try. Stoops has donated blood 389 times and Hale has donated 93 times.
“Before I hit six years, I should hit 100. I like to give back to the community. It’s just a good and easy way to give back,” Hale said. “I like the Pepsi, too.”
Hale hopes to donate 1,000 times in his lifetime and he estimates he will do this in his 50s. Hale, who is on the autism spectrum, has a plan for just about everything. He said he doesn’t allow his disability to be a “crutch.”
“One of my big things is I’m big on no excuses. No excuses. Not for bad grades. Not for missing bike rides. Not for failing to give blood. No excuses,” Hale said.
Stoops was quick to add that Hale wasn’t giving himself the credit he deserved. Hale was voted Outstanding Senior while attending Fairmont High School. Hale made sure to add that he was also homecoming king. Hale also just received his bachelor’s degree from Wright State University in criminal justice, graduating with a 3.95.
“I won’t say he’s over the top, but he’s near the edge. He influences so many people in so many ways that I just have to admire him,” Stoops said.
The admiration is reciprocated. Hale said he admires Stoops’ drive, and that while Stoops might have to take a break from some things in the future, he hasn’t been stopped yet.
“He hasn’t given up. He could easily just say, ‘I don’t want to ride a bike again.’ He refuses to give up and he tries his best,” Hale said.
Beyond the Independence Pass bike ride, Hale has big plans for the future. Currently, he has biked in 510 cities in 49 different counties in five different states. He will hit 50 counties this week. In total, he has ridden 31,321 miles. And that’s just the beginning.
“I want to get 100,000 miles. I’m hoping that around the time I get 1,000 blood donations, I should hit 100,000 miles. And that will be nice. It will be like 100 miles for every blood donation. If you set your mind to it, it’s doable. If you say you want to get 1,000 blood donations, you’re going to get 1,000 donations. If you want to make 100,000 miles, and you bust your butt, you’re going to get 100,000 miles,” he said.
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