By @MichaelCaples –
MILFORD – When most hockey players get done with a grueling week of summer hockey camp, they take some time to relax.
Alex Hufford hopped on his bike, instead.
The Portage Central senior goaltender wrapped up a week of training with Bandits Goalie School in time to start his state-wide ‘4 Great Lakes, 1 Great Cause” bike trip with friend Max Newsome.
The two friends are biking across Michigan – and we really mean across it – to touch the four Great Lakes that touch Michigan. The trip, with a theme of “Bike More, Raise More, Save More” is designed to raise money for the construction of a well in Cambodia.
Hufford and Newsome were inspired by Daren Wendell, founder of Kalmazoo-based ActiveWater, a non-profit organization that aims to raise money and spread awareness for areas of our world in need of clean water.
“In middle school, we went to a camp led by Daren…He was really passionate about ActiveWater,” Hufford said. “He was setting up his 100 marathons in 100 days campaign, so we came up with the idea to kind of do something similar. It actually started out as an idea just to bike from Kalamazoo to Detroit – one week, just here and there. When that didn’t work – we had a few people fall out of our group that we were going to do it with – we started up with a new idea to bike 1,000 miles around Michigan to raise money.”
When asked how they picked Cambodia, Hufford said based on a suggestion from Wendell.
“There is a whole list that Daren has….and that’s where they need things the most,” Hufford said. “They most needed a well in Cambodia…that’s where we felt we were needed the most.”
So Hufford and Newsome set out for a state-wide journey to spread the word and encourage donations for their cause.
“We started in Kalamazoo, and then we went over the west side of the state,” Hufford said. “We’re going to touch the four Great Lakes that touch Michigan to raise money for clean water. We got water from Lake Michigan, then we journeyed up through Reed City, Kalkaska, Mackinaw, all the way up to Takwanan Falls. We went to Lake Superior there, then we came back down through Cheboygan and Mio. [Monday] we were a little bit south of Midland, and now (Tuesday) we’re in the Novi area, and we’re almost done.”
The goal for the group – Hufford’s father Todd and other family members have been following along in a car painted with the ActiveWater information – is to bike on back home on Friday.
As of Tuesday evening (when MiHockey met up with the bikers in Milford), there hadn’t been any big complaints – despite them biking sometimes more than 100 miles a day.
“Sometimes when you see a big hill, you get a little nervous, but we haven’t had too much trouble,” Newsome said. “There have been a couple times that we’ve had to get on some fairly busy roads, and it’s been a little nerve-wracking there, but other than that, everyone’s been pretty nice to us, usually give us a lot of space on the road. Haven’t really had any problems, everyone’s been really nice – people have put us in their house, had us over, it’s been really nice.”
Hufford’s wild hockey and biking journey will continue after the conclusion of the trip, however; he’s got tryouts for his MDHL fall team right when he gets home.
“Hopefully I’ll be home by noon on Friday,” Hufford said. “I’ll hop in the hot tub for 20 minutes, hang out with my friends for maybe an hour, and then I’m off to Team West Michigan tryouts in Grand Rapids all weekend.”
Would a hockey player have it any other way?
For more information and how to donate, visit the group’s official ActiveWater page right here. The duo aim to raise $6,000, and as of this article going live, they currently have $4,530.