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Three Bel Air friends riding cross country to raise money for St. Jude children's hospital

The members of the '3 Amigos' cycling team -- from left, Larry Friedman, Tony Yoor and Jeff Springer -- all of Bel Air, are riding their bikes across the U.S. to raise money for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Their trip begins Wednesday in Southern California.
The members of the '3 Amigos' cycling team -- from left, Larry Friedman, Tony Yoor and Jeff Springer -- all of Bel Air, are riding their bikes across the U.S. to raise money for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Their trip begins Wednesday in Southern California. (Tony Yoor/Provided Photo / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

On Wednesday, the members of the “3 Amigos” cycling team — Bel Air residents and friends Larry Friedman, Jeff Springer and Tony Yoor — will dip the rear wheels of their bikes in the Pacific Ocean before setting off on a cross-country ride to raise money for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

The group will ride 2,910 miles over 42 days, from Newport Beach, California, to St. Augustine Beach, Florida, with the goal of dipping their front wheels in the Atlantic Ocean when they arrive in early May.

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The route on their “Give a Kid a Chance” tour will take them through Southern California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, according to a news release.

Maj. Gen. Randy Taylor, senior commander of Aberdeen Proving Ground, met with residents of housing units on the Army post Monday to hear their concerns about the state of the dwellings. He later pledged to work with the private firm that manages housing to fix maintenance backlogs.

The cross-country trip is a “mutual bucket list item” for the trio, according to Friedman.

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“We have various levels of touring experience, but none of us have cycled across the country,” he said.

The trip is also meant to raise money for the St. Jude mission of treating childhood cancer and other diseases and conducting research. Yoor said 100 percent of the funds raised through the trip will be donated to St. Jude. More than $3,000 has already been raised before the men started their ride. Those willing to make a contribution can visit http://fundraising.stjude.org/3amigos.

Friedman, 61, is a retired chemical engineer who was a civilian Department of Defense employee at Aberdeen Proving Ground. He is a longtime friend of Yoor, 58, who works for Army contractor GP Strategies Corp., teaching civilians to repair equipment used to dispose of aging chemical weapons.

The pair met while working at APG and bonded over their shared interest in cycling.

Friedman is also friends with Springer, 64, a retired Army lieutenant colonel who spent 24 years in the service before retiring in 2002 — he is a veteran of Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm in 1990 and 1991.

Springer now works as a civil engineer with Booz Allen Hamilton. He was introduced to Yoor by Friedman. The three men have not ridden together before, though.

“By the end of this trip, we’re all going to know each other really well,” Friedman said.

“Too well,” Yoor joked.

The trio plans to ride an average of 70 miles a day and carry their gear on their bikes, spending their nights in hotels or camping as needed.

Springer said they will be accompanied by “vehicle support,” carrying supplies of food and water as they cycle through remote areas between Southern California and San Antonio.

“The guy who is going to do that is my 90-year-old dad,” Springer said.

Clyde Springer, who lives in Palm Springs, California, will be with the group each day until they reach San Antonio.

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All three team members have participated in charity rides to raise money to fight other diseases such as breast cancer or multiple sclerosis, but this trip is their first fundraiser for St. Jude.

Yoor said children with cancer “deserve the most chance” to have a healthy life.

“To help them in any kind of way that I can, I’ll do it,” he said.

The Memphis-based hospital was founded by television star Danny Thomas in 1962 and is named for St. Jude Thaddeus, the “patron saint of hopeless causes,” according to the hospital website.

Head-shaving events are held in communities around the country, including Bel Air, each year as people get their heads, as well as beards or mustaches, shaved in exchange for donations to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation.

Children receive treatment at St. Jude for a number of illnesses, including various cancers, blood disorders, sickle cell disease, immunodeficiency disorders, even infectious diseases.

Extensive medical research also happens at the hospital. Patients and their families are not billed for treatment, or food, housing and travel; funding comes from donations, grants for research, investment income and insurance reimbursements, according to the St. Jude website.

Yoor said he knows the young patients “don’t want to get up and deal with what they deal with every day, and the families, too.”

“If I get up in the morning and my legs are cramped up or hurt, that’s not stopping me,” he said. “I’m just going to keep going.”

Friedman expressed a similar sentiment.

“You never know what the good Lord has in store for you, so you just do the best you can,” he said.

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