Twenty Someone: Tom Peled

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Hometown: Kfar Achim ( a small village in south Israel)

College: IDC Herzliya

Age: 25

Occupation: Student

1. Describe your job in three words:  An inspiration giver

2. Your favorite thing about living in Israel? The fact that a random person you don’t know can stop you on the street, ask you for help in something and you won’t feel any danger. The people in Israel are very warm, friendly and straightforward. Once you get used to it you get an amazing feeling of community.

3. How did BIKE FOR THE FIGHT (BFF) come to be?  My father, Ramy Peled, was an incredible and extraordinary person, admired by everyone he met. He had an exuberant and optimistic personality. Tragedy fell on our family in 2002 when my father was diagnosed with an incurable and rare cancer of the stomach membrane. In Israel only five people are diagnosed with this type of cancer each year and the average lifespan is only a few months. My father was not ready to give up and even during the most difficult periods, he did not lose hope, maintaining constant faith that he could overcome the disease. He bravely battled the disease, enduring several extensive surgeries and hospitalizations.

Sadly, after eight long years of struggle his body simply did not have any more power to go on and In January 2011 my father passed away. You can imagine that after my father’s passing I went through a very hard time- unsure of how to move forward in a world absent of my father. 

I felt the only way I could get out of the bad situation I was in and channel my despair into something positive was by undertaking a mental and physical challenge, and in the summer of 2011, I decided to bike solo across Europe without any sort of predefined route. That journey took me three months through six countries and across more than 3000 miles.

As my journey through Europe came to a close, I felt that this can’t be the end. The strong feeling of accomplishment and help in overcoming my loss that the journey gave me couldn’t be kept to myself! I wanted to challenge myself again, but this time for a higher purpose with personal significance – something that would benefit the community.

I came back to Israel and started the BIKE FOR THE FIGHT project, with the objective being to bike across the USA from Los Angeles to New York and to raise money for cancer research in Israel. During the bike ride we passed through communities, summer camps, campuses and major sporting events. By telling people my personal story we encouraged others to join my cause by donating money or joining a part of my trip across America.

4.  I’m very sorry to hear about your father. I know he would be proud of you. How do you decide where to do your biking tours? After doing the bike ride in Europe I felt that the USA was the best possible place to take on such a project.

5. You’ve biked all over the world. Where was your favorite place? That’s very hard to say because each place has it’s own uniqueness. In the USA we loved biking through Utah and Colorado.

 6. Tell me about someone you’ve met while biking who inspired you. We learned that the biggest surprises come in the most unexpected places. Last summer  while riding from Los Angeles to New York we met a guy named Alan from Lancaster, Pennsylvania. At first glance Alan seemed to us a simple guy. Forty years old, working at the same restaurant for 20 years, and I doubt he ever left the small town where he lived all his life.

Alan is an amazing person with a heart of gold and an extraordinary personal story. While we were in town he helped us in many ways, but the most exciting thing that happened is that when he knew we were planning to leave to ride again he got up at six in the morning and went looking for our car all over town. When he finally found our motel he sat there waiting for us for more than an hour in the cold.

He wanted to say thank you to us and give us a $100 bill. We later learned that his father was also battling cancer. We were so proud to hear that last Saturday Alan ran a 5km run for the first time with the BFF bracelet still on his hand  which he says gives him inspiration! (See bracelet below)

 7. Do you think Lance Armstrong irrevocably damaged people’s trust in giving? I think that it hurt people on a personal level because he was an inspiration to so many and in the end it turned to be a lie. I personally do not agree with what he did, but on the other hand marvel at all he has achieved in helping people fight cancer. The story of Lance made us understand even more how important it is to be real and true in everything we do.

8. What is the ultimate goal of BFF? When, if ever, will you feel your work is done? Or will you bike forever? I think that our long term goal is to turn into a platform that helps people do good. In the long run I see BFF reaching out to many other fields-not just biking and cancer. There are so many people with so many amazing ideas that sometimes just need help with the first steps.

9. What would you tell your father if he were here today? Thank you for teaching me and doing everything to help me make the right decisions in life.

 10. In ten years you will be… hopefully continuing to grow and inspire people

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Want to donate to BFF? http://icrfny.donorpages.com/NYPFP/TomPeled/

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