AUGUSTA — An Ohio teenager rode his bicycle for nine hours to visit Augusta and raise awareness for his hometown pool club.
Theodore Hale, 18, of Kettering, Ohio, arrived in Augusta on Wednesday and planned to leave the area Saturday morning to return home. It was his first overnight trip on his bike.
“I’ve always wanted to go on an overnight trip with my bike,” Hale said. “A friend of mine told me about Augusta and that I had to see it, so I came down on Wednesday.”
He rode through several Ohio towns, making stops along the way to rest, before arriving in Augusta.
During his time in Augusta, Hale stayed at the Parkview Inn and spent his time visiting the local shops and counting the cars on trains going by on the railroad tracks.
“I had lunch at the General Store and dinner at the Augusta Pub,” he said. “I saw the Rosemary Clooney House, spent some time in my hotel room and I’ve been able to see the trains. It’s been a great trip.”
Donna Whitehead, with Moore For Less, said she met Hale when he stopped by at the store on Main Street and asked if he could stand underneath the business’ awning in order to watch the trains.
“He loves trains,” she said. “I told him it was fine to stand there. He counted the cars on the trains as they went by. He can tell you exactly how many cars are on it.”
It was also his first experience with the Amtrak.
“I’ve always wanted to see the Amtrak, but I’ve never been able to,” he said. “I got up really early and watched it go by in the morning. I really liked it.”
Hale said his ride to Augusta was also about raising awareness and money for his hometown pool club called Club Marinole. Though not a member of the club, Hale plays basketball there.
“I’m not a member, but they let me play basketball for free, so I wanted to do something to give back,” he said.
According to Hale, he was able to raise $1,174 for the pool, which would be presented on Saturday after he returned home.
“Before this, the most money they’ve been able to raise during a fundraiser was about $600,” Hale said. “They had a benefit concert awhile back and was able to raise some money, but I wanted to do something to help them bring in a little more.”
Hale said he enjoyed his visit to town, but was looking forward to returning home in order to present the money he raised to the organization.
“I’ve had a lot of fun,” he said. “It’s a really good town. It’s pretty and all of the people here have been so nice to me. I’ve enjoyed being here and meeting everyone.”
Whitehead said Hale also changed her day for the better.
“You sit around with all of these tiny worries and then you meet someone like (Hale) and your day just changes,” she said. “He’s been around the store with me for a good part of (Thursday) and we’ve had so much fun. He’s truly blessed my life and I’m glad I was able to meet him.”
Hale said he graduated from high school in May and will be attending Sinclair Community College in Dayton, Ohio, beginning on Monday.