Hogan returns to hero’s welcome

by Michael Short on August 26, 2010

By Michael Short

Jack Hogan hoists his bicycle over his head before departing on his cross-country trek.

Jack Hogan left Bethany Beach on June 21 to ride 3,800 miles across the country to raise money for Sussex County Habitat for Humanity and Contractors for a Cause (CFAC).

Now, Jack’s back in town after hitting the road for nearly two months of pavement searing, tire shredding cross-country action.

He  dipped his bicycle  into the ocean at La Jolla, California on August 7. The 60-year-old Dagsboro man has returned home via motorhome after riding for three local causes and finishing the latest installment of “Hit the Road Jack.”

It’s the latest installment because Hogan walked to Melbourne Beach, Florida when he was 50-years-old. Five years later, he bicycled to Florida in less than two weeks.

“Long distance road adventures are incredibly fascinating and each day brings forth its unique and unknown adventures and rewards,” he wrote before leaving. “By journey’s end, I am always amazed and in awe of the good and helpful spirits that you encounter during daily travels. There is nothing like it! The memories live in you forever. So, once again, it’s time to Hit the Road Jack.”

“Thank you all for following this trip and supporting this great cause,” Hogan wrote on his facebook page after reaching La Jolla. “I hope the ripple affect will greatly bless Justin Jennings Beach House and all those who will enjoy staying there.”

The Justin Jennings Beach House is one of two causes supported by Contractors for a Cause (CFAC). It is a home for young people with cancer and their families in the Bethany Beach area. The home will be named for Justin Jennings, a young man diagnosed with brain cancer who died in 2000 while attending college.

“Cancer takes so much from the person (affected), but also from the people around it. We were fortunate to have a place down here. But to be able to bring a family (that’s dealing with cancer) down here for some good old-fashioned fun at the beach, to enjoy each other and have a good time, would be a breath of fresh air,” explained Justin’s mother Mary Ellen Nantais. “Then they can put everything on the back burner for at least a week and, hopefully, it will make it (the illness) a lot easier to get through.”

CFAC also supports  a student scholarship fund which was supported by Hogan’s ride.

Hogan left Bethany Beach early that June morning after meeting with friends and well wishers and dipping his bike wheels into the Atlantic Ocean (a tradition for cyclists).

He hoisted the bike aloft and left with a police escort and a few friends with little more than a couple  of changes of clothing and a credit card to his name.

“Please grant me for my journey,” he wrote in a message before he left Bethany Beach. “Favorable winds, protection from the storms, shelter from the rain and strength to cross the deserts so that at  journey’s end, I may dip my bike in the waters of the great Pacific to honor and support those who are battling cancer as we acknowledge and support their courageous efforts.”

“Wound up tight like a rubber band! Hard to comprehend – trip is completed,” Hogan wrote on his facebook page hittheroadjack2010 as he finished the ride.

His facebook page is full of pictures, his own postings and comments from friends, supporters and relatives. Jennings’ mother wrote as he neared the end of the ride that Justin had always told them not to come to his grave and cry. “So, needless to say, every time we do get up to Wilmington and go to his grave, no matter how still the day is, the moment we look down at his grave, we get hit in the face,  literally, with a  hard wind telling us to leave. We do and the wind stops as soon as we start to walk away. So, what he is doing now is sending the wind to guide you safely to your destination and home.”

On August 4, one day before reaching the West Coast, Hogan wrote “Very long day . . . started at 5:30. Barely made it to my destination before the heat about did me in. There is no way I could have gone through the hardships of this trip without my friends’ encouragement. Without a doubt, I would have given up a long time ago if it wasn’t for your love and support. The more I think about how important this cause is, the more it drives me. Indescribable feeling when I crossed into CA!”

Checks can still be made payable to Contractors for a Cause c/o Barbara Hogan at 31733 Duane Drive, Frankford, 19945. You can also go online to either www.contractorsforacause.org or www.sussexcountyhabitat.org. You can learn more about Justin Jennings by going to www.justinjennings.org.

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