MADRID – When John J. Friot Jr. takes a bike ride next month, he will cycle over 60 miles through St. Lawrence County and visit three schools and a state park.
In his second run for Team A to Z, Mr. Friot will help raise money for the local organization’s scholarship fund on August 23. The fund supports high school graduates who want to work with people with autism and different abilities.
With his wife Jessica J. Friot and his two children, Mr. Friot lives south of the village of Canton, near Pyrites. 27 kilometers north of Madrid, the Moulton family are preparing differently for the fundraising race.
“It all started when he arrested my husband for expired plaques,” said Tonya S. Moulton. “People are made to meet.
About eight years ago, the Moultons were pulling an RV with obsolete plates and were pulled over by Mr. Friot, a New York State Park police officer. A few weeks later – with new plates – the Moulton RV was again spotted by Mr. Friot at Coles Creek State Park. That day, Mr. Friot showed the Moultons’ eldest son, Adam, the lights and sirens of the patrol car.
“From that point on, we just got connected,” Mr. Friot said.
Ms. Moulton and her husband Carter L. Moulton are strong supporters of their sons, Zachary, 10, and Adam, 17, both with autism.
The Moultons rallied family and friends for nearly a decade, initially raising money for Team Adam, which became the team from A to Z.
“From Adam to Zachary, and all the kids in between,” Ms. Moulton said.
Team A to Z funds were first raised for NYSARC, now known as The Arc New York, and their annual Autism Awareness Walk in St. Lawrence County. The Moultons then created an A-Z team committee, which previously operated under the aegis of the Rotary Club of Massena and now under the aegis of the United Church of Madrid.
After their meeting, the Friots and Moultons began working together on fundraising efforts, which were bolstered by a regular vendor fair – until the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic quashed it. 2020 event. Families have planned a bike ride instead.
Mr. Friot traveled approximately 46 miles last year, and has increased to 64.6 miles this year. Ms. Friot will escort passengers in a vehicle, with assistance from the St. Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office and State Park Police.
“I don’t know how John does it; he’s my hero, ”said Moulton, adding that she cried at the finish line last year. “We eat, sleep and breathe autism here. This journey means a lot to us, especially when the community is behind. “
The August 23 route begins at Edwards-Knox Central School, north through Canton to Madrid-Waddington Central School and northeast to Massena Central School. From Massena, the runners will head to the finish line at Robert Moses State Park.
Last summer’s race raised around $ 3,600, enough to cover more than two years of scholarships for graduates from Edwards-Knox, Madrid-Waddington and Massena. Team A to Z is committed to awarding a $ 500 cash scholarship to one student from each school each year, and excess donations are reserved for additional scholarships and assistance for families with children with special needs. in the county, especially when a need is not covered by insurance or a school district.
Previous scholarships have been awarded to students pursuing work in occupational therapy, special education, and self-management support with the State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities. If seniors do not plan to work in a relevant field, applicants who have volunteered with people with disabilities are considered.
“We try to be very inclusive,” Ms. Moulton said. “It’s so important to people on the spectrum and to the people who work with them. “
The fundraising goal for 2021 has been set at $ 5,000. Contributions include a minimum entry fee of $ 25 for runners, organizational sponsors, and proceeds from t-shirt and cup sales. A friend accompanied Mr. Friot last year, and a handful of new runners have so far signed up to participate this year.
Mr. Friot jokes about his hairstyle – a bald shine – and jokes about not being a born cyclist. What started as a mountain biking hobby to stay active with your family has turned into a new ambition. He now rides regularly with the Canton Cycling Club and discovered the speed and elegance of road bikes when he purchased a used aluminum frame Giordano Libero on Facebook Marketplace. He will use this red and black bike for the team A to Z ride.
Adam and Zachary remain his motivation to ride, Mr. Friot said, adding that he feels particularly encouraged by the team A to Z motto: “In a world where you can be anything, be kind. “
“As cliché as it sounds,” Mr. Friot said, “it’s true and true to the end.”
The rainy date for the trip is Tuesday August 24th.