Kennan Garvey was a cycling enthusiast, taught children about bikes when he was in the Peace Corps and wanted to volunteer for Phoenix Bikes after he retired, his widow, Arlington County Board member Libby Garvey said.
Since she created the fund, Garvey has aimed to raise $56,000 for Phoenix Bikes, a thousand dollars for each year her husband lived.
“When people first pass away, people want to give money, and people don’t forget,” Garvey said, “but they don’t remember so much [as time goes by]. I thought a ride would be a great way to keep the fund going and organized.”
When her husband died unexpectedly from a heart attack on Jan. 19, 2008, Garvey said she knew she wanted to set up a memorial for him to benefit Phoenix Bikes.
“Probably at about 2:00 a.m. that night it came to me that this would be the perfect memorial for him,” Garvey said.
The charity bicycle ride will start and end at Phoenix Bikes at 4200 S. Four Mile Run Drive, and will span the entire trail. There will be turn-around points at 15, 30 and 45 miles into the trail, allowing riders to bike 30, 60, or 90 miles. Riders can also do an extra 10 miles on the Custis Trail to complete a full 100-mile-ride, according to Phoenix Bikes Executive Director Henry Dunbar.
“It’s a great ride, really suitable for kids,” Garvey said. “You don’t have to cross roads much and there aren’t any huge hills.”
Garvey and Phoenix Bikes partnered to raise money in her husband’s name for the nonprofit in 2008, and have wanted to organize a ride to feed the fund for the past five years, Dunbar said.
“Kennan was an avid cyclist and obviously a very connected member of the community,” Dunbar said. “Having an annual event that would continue to memorialize him and build on this fund is part of our plan to grow.”
Phoenix Bikes plans to use the fund, which has a goal of $10,000 for Saturday’s ride, to help its effort to build a new education center that will have room for more of the young bicyclists it mentors, Dunbar said. The current location accommodates eight to 10 middle school-aged children, who are taught bike repair and business skills, but Phoenix Bikes wants to double that with the new building.
Registration is still open for the ride, and those interested in donating but not riding can sponsor a rider, like Garvey’s grandson, who learned about bicycling from his late grandfather. Garvey said that the goal is for every rider to pledge $500 via either donation or sponsorship. The fund has has raised $4,120 so far.
“We’re getting there,” Garvey said. “I’m not sure if we’ll make it to $10,000, but we’re getting there.”
Although Garvey broke her collarbone in May while training for the ride and will not participate this year, she said she will be there to cheer on her family members and the other riders.
“For whatever reason I wasn’t meant to ride this one,” Garvey said.
Garvey and Dunbar said they plan to hold the ride annually to keep the Kennan Garvey Memorial Fund growing, and to make sure that he is remembered.
“It’s hard, but it is what it is,” Garvey said of the loss of her late husband. “We had a great life together.”
Photo courtesy Libby Garvey