TJ Mundy bike rides around his Long Valley neighborhood like the majority of 12-year-olds in town.
He’s heading into eighth grade at the Long Valley Middle School and is a member of Boy Scout Troop 36.
For most 12-year-olds, this summer was about relaxing and being with friends. But for Mundy, it’s been a year in the making, and one he’s been looking forward to.
Mundy’s cousin Kyle Van Houten, 13, who lives in Michigan, has Duchenne’s Muscular Dystrophy, and the Long Valley boy wanted desperately to do something to help him.
That’s why on Wednesday morning, TJ Mundy will hop on his bike in Ephreta, Pennsylvania, and ride with a group of cyclists for three days until they reach their Pt. Pleasant, New Jersey finish line.
The ride, which took off on July 1 in Minneapolis, Minnesota and spans 1,500 miles, is a fundraising effort through the Jett Foundation, which benefits persons with muscular dystrophy.
While TJ didn’t meet the age requirement of 15 to take part in the entire trip, he was allowed to be a three-day rider, joining the group on the final leg.
“It’s a great experience for the kids,” TJ Mundy’s mom Lisa said. “When we saw (Jack) finish last year in Pt. Pleasant, TJ said he wanted to do it. He’s been ready since last summer.”
When Mundy and his fellow riders depart from Ephreta on Wednesday, they’ll be tackling an 80-mile stretch to reach New Jersey for Thursday’s ride. It’s one of the longer legs of the journey, Lisa Mundy said.
“They average about 40-50 miles a day,” she said. “But they need to make up about 80 on Wednesday we were told.”
With a year to think about it, TJ Mundy hasn’t been hesitant at all, his mom said. But Lisa and her husband Sean can’t say the same.
“We’re a little nervous about it,” the mother of two said. “TJ’s really determined to ride and he’s with a good group.”
As part of the fundraising portion of the ride, Mundy was hoping to bring in about $200 for the event. He did that, and then some.
As of Wednesday morning, Mundy’s fundraising page was up to $1,410 in donations that will directly benefit muscular dystrophy awareness and research.
The Long Valley family of 14 years has also helped organize the finish line parade in Pt. Pleasant, and will be on hand to welcome home their son and cousin on Friday.
TJ Mundy’s not an avid biker, his mom said. But it didn’t matter what the mode of transportation was for this event. He just wanted to help make a difference for his cousin and those with muscular dystrophy.
If his track record is any indication, Mundy will begin preparing for next year’s ride once he crosses the finish line this Friday.
For more information about the Jett Foundation, visit the website at jettfoundation.org.