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Ride the Rockies cyclist survives crash, returns to raise funds for homeless

Tom Schwein Team Samaritan House Ride the Rockies

Bicyclist Tom Schwein saw the finish line ahead. He could taste victory after an exhilarating yet grueling six-day, 400-mile tour last year during Ride the Rockies—until his bike came to a sudden stop.

A divot in the pavement pole vaulted Schwein over his handlebars and on the ground face first at 30 mph. Few cyclists like Schwein escaped permanent brain injury, or death, after a similar accident—this one breaking eight bones in his face, he said. He overcame his fears and began to ride again weeks later.

This summer, Schwein is back in the saddle and captain of Team Samaritan House, a volunteer group of 33 cyclists participating in the Ride the Rockies Colorado Bicycle Tour June 11-17. They’re braving 400 miles of steep grades and winding roads to raise money for Samaritan House in Denver and other shelters run by Catholic Charities.

“The more I thought about the homeless after my crash and the blessing we had as a cycling team to raise $115,000 for the homeless of Colorado last year, the more I realized that God was not yet done with me here on earth, and was calling me to do more,” said 56-year-old Schwein, who lives in Highlands Ranch.

The team will use their fundraising muscle to raise $150,000 in donations to provide meals and warm beds and to support Catholic Charities’ shelter program designed to teach residents life skills and self-reliance.

All funds raised go to Samaritan House, a downtown Denver shelter for men, women and families, along with The Mission shelter in Fort Collins and Guadalupe Community Center and Shelter in Greeley. In 2015, Catholic Charities provided 1,087,493 nights of shelter at emergency and transitional housing and 457,000 meals.

Schwein said he dedicates every mile pedaled to someone in need.

“My motivation for this ride is, and will be, knowing the difference we can make in the lives of those less fortunate,” he said. “Each dollar raised will truly change the lives of the individuals and families who call these shelters home.”

Joining him is a growing team—now in its sixth year with Ride the Rockies—of business executives, college graduates, mothers, fathers and triathletes driven to give to the homeless.

For Leslie Prevish—a 47-year-old Boulder resident who joined two years ago after competing in a triathlon and Ironman—it’s a chance to encourage others through trials.
Team Samaritan House poses for a photo during Ride the Rockies Colorado Bicycle Tour.Over the past five years, Team Samaritan House has raised more than $250,000 thanks to generous donors. The riders credit fellow rider and Catholic Charities CEO Larry Smith for their success. He set each riders’ goal to a minimum of $1,500.

“Our cycling team can’t feed all the hungry, but we can feed quite a few as a result of what we do to raise money for the homeless,” Schwein said.

The team will begin their tour in Carbondale before trekking up to 85 miles per day through Aspen, Vail, Silverthorne, Estes Park and finally Fort Collins—exceeding 29,000 feet in elevation gains.

“The ride will be physically demanding and undoubtedly there will be some sore muscles,” he said.

Team members say the tour promises weight loss, camaraderie, adventure and the satisfaction of helping others.

“You’re in for the journey of your life,” Schwein said. “And I feel blessed that God has called me to do this work. We’re all called to help our brothers and sisters in need.”