© 2022 | WUWF Public Media
11000 University Parkway
Pensacola, FL 32514
850 474-2787
NPR for Florida's Great Northwest
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Pace Woman Cycles 2,500 Miles To Celebrate Birthday & Champion Causes

Diane Lea
Diane Lea in New Mexico.


Diane Lea grew up in Pace and began planning a 2,500 mile journey about two years ago, as she was approaching her next big birthday.

"And I thought, you know, when I turn 50 it’s time for me to do something for somebody else. It’s time for me to give back."

But, she had to figure out what she could actually do that would have some impact. She’d participated in a few charity bike rides around Pensacola, so thought, 'okay, that’s it. I can ride a bicycle.'

"And, I thought well how can I incorporate that into helping somebody else. So, my thought process was okay what if I ride the bicycle 50 miles? I’m like that’s still not a big deal and doesn’t help anybody. And, then I thought well what if I ride the bike 50 miles a day for 50 days, and that still doesn’t help anybody. So, I had to decide on a cause."

In looking to her close friends and family, Lea says her mom has Alzheimer’s disease and she just lost a favorite aunt to breast cancer, but it didn’t end there. 

"There were so many that I couldn’t decide on just one. And, then I widened my circle a bit and like a ripple in a lake it just kept getting bigger and bigger. And, I had to stop it at 50 because the number of causes is just infinite."

Lea kicked off her journey in San Diego on June 18 and highlighted the first of her 50 causes in a video on her http://www.50causesride.com/website.

She said, "each day that I ride, we will bring awareness to the cause of the day and the cause for this day is a rare disease called Cystinuria. The patients suffering from Cystinuria form rare kidney stones and usually many of them. We can have a kidney stone or two in our lifetime, but patients with Cystinuria can have several in the same year."

Cystinuria is one of several little known medical conditions that Lea, who works in the urology field, has chosen to highlight. 

There’s a greater awareness for other causes such as Diabetes, Multiple Sclerosis, Lukemia, Depression, Childhood Obesity, Human Trafficking, and more. Day by day, each gets a spotlight.

WUWF caught up with Lea on Monday after one of her stops in Conroe, Texas. 

Her schedule this week has included multiple stops in Lake Arthur and New Iberia, Louisiana, where she’ll spend the weekend. The causes highlighted this week are Thyroid disease, rheumatoid arthritis, ovarian cancer, the Pensacola Humane Society, and Appetite 4 Life.

Lea says she’s gotten a pretty good reaction from people she’s encountered on the road and elsewhere.

"We always carry our cards with us and wear our little ’50 Causes t-shirts.” It makes people want to talk to us, like “what’s up with that t-shirt,” you know. And, we talk to them and tell them what’s going on and usually I’ll see those people pop up on our Facebook page, liking our page, and some of them will follow us."

Lea says her goal was to raise awareness of the various causes she chose, and she believes she’s accomplishing that with her 50 miles a day on the road, and her online and social media presence. 

 “Many people are writing comments in saying ‘I’d never heard of that disease or this cause or this place,’ and, that means a lot to me for these people to say ‘now I’ve heard of it, now I know.’ That’s the premise, I wanted everybody to know, I mean whoever’s listening to us, to know, just to have an elementary education on these 50 causes so they can now say I’ve heard of it.”

Lea says the past month and a half of her “50 Causes Ride” has been an exciting adventure, one she couldn’t have done without her support team and the generosity of the community. 

She’ll be on the road a couple more weeks, as she works her way through Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. She’s scheduled to ride into Pensacola on August 20. 

You can find out more about the ride and the causes being highlighted, and how you can help, at 50CausesRide.com.

Sandra Averhart has been News Director at WUWF since 1996. Her first job in broadcasting was with (then) Pensacola radio station WOWW107-FM, where she worked 11 years. Sandra, who is a native of Pensacola, earned her B.S. in Communication from Florida State University.