In September I started preparing to tell the story about my race this summer and decided to write a book about the experience and how we were capable of putting together such a high performing team to assist me in making it to the finish line. Well I have written over 90,000 words on 160+ pages to date and I am on track to finish documenting the guts of the story before the year is over. Mt friend Steve Gladis who has written over half a dozen books calls this my “lousy FIRST draft”
My alma mater American University featured Hopecam on the University website recently. click the link above to see the article, or read below:
Kogod Alum Bikes Across America for Charity
Forkas, MBA ‘87, isn’t an Olympic athlete, but he did finish a 3,000 mile bicycle race this summer.
The grueling Race Across America (RAAM) from Oceanside, California to Annapolis, Maryland was a testament to Forkas’ physical fitness and unyielding determination. It was also the product of his commitment to a cause close to his heart.
In 2002, Forkas founded Hopecam, a nonprofit that connects homebound children undergoing treatment for cancer and other life-threatening illnesses with their friends at school using laptops, high-speed internet connections, and web cameras.
A 52-year-old father of two, Forkas became invested in the cause when his own son, Matt, was diagnosed with leukemia at 10 years old. After seeing firsthand the loneliness, boredom, and isolation homebound cancer patients endure, Forkas created Hopecam to bring back the social element of childhood for his son and other children. Matt is now 19 and healthy.
In order to raise money and awareness for Hopecam, Forkas called the RAAM “Len’s Race for Hope,” and successfully raised over $320,000 for his charity—more than double his goal. The amount was reached through corporate sponsorships and personal donations, including one sizable matching donation of $150,000 from a wealthy individual.
According to Jennifer Bond, executive director of Hopecam, it takes about $500 a year to facilitate the connection between a homebound child and his or her school. With the $320,000 raised through the race, Hopecam can connect hundreds more children for years to come.
Forkas completed the 3,000-mile race—nearly 30 percent longer than the Tour de France—in 11 days, 4 hours, and 47 minutes. He rode an average of 20 hours a day, and was one of just 28 out of the 46 solo competitors to finish the race. Of those 28, Forkas placed first in his age group and tenth overall.
He credits his crew of 11 volunteers for helping him finish, as they provided him with food, water, supplies, and moral support. Some nights Forkas slept for 3 to 4 hours in hotels; other days he would ride all day and take sporadic 15-minute naps in the accompanying RV.
His diet consisted of 80 percent liquids; he was 10 pounds lighter by the time he reached Maryland’s capitol city.
In addition to his work for Hopecam, Forkas is the founder and CEO of Milestone Communications, a wireless infrastructure company that has developed and managed over 40 wireless towers in the Washington, D.C. region. The Reston, Virginia-based company was founded in 2000, and specializes in creating partnerships with local governments in order to build on public properties.
After graduating with a degree in architecture from Ball State University, Forkas earned his MBA, specializing in finance. He said that AU prepared him to become an entrepreneur in the real estate and wireless industries, and that during his time at Kogod he built many lasting relationships with classmates.
Speaking to the blog Late Blooming Entrepreneurs, Forkas said, “The race is brutal, both physically and mentally. But compared with what a child with cancer goes through, it’s peanuts.”
Reston Patch.com’s Karen Goff covers the story: Len Forkas, the founder of Reston’s Milestone Communications and the nonprofit Hopecam, crossed the finish line in the Race Across America on Sunday Night…
What I took away from this is how true the statement ‘anything is possible’ is. I had read about RAAM almost since it began and knew that it took 20 hours of riding a day… But seeing a rider turn themselves inside out day after day is not something that I could truly understand until you see it.
Watching Len pop out if bed with energy and enthusiasm after a 90 minute rest would not seem believable if I had not witnessed over and over. Knowing a few dozen others, men and women, were doing the same, made it not just real, but necessary.
Seeing what is possible with such perfect focus and commitment, I have to wonder how much we all leave undone when we say ‘enough’.
I know I have radically changed my opinion of where our limits are, and if seeing the incredible capacities we all have drives us to give a bit more in our lives, then this race will pay dividends for us all for a long time.
We have decided to move the party to the City Dock. We should be there with light refreshments and drinks by 6:30 or 7 pm. Look for the orange Hopecam tent! He is expected around 7:30 or 8:00. Please join us if you are able!! It would mean the world to Len to have his friends and family there!
Len climbed through one of the most difficult sections of the race yesterday afternoon in the Allegheny Mountains, an appropriate place to thank the Fairfax County Fire Fighters and Fairfax County for their hard work supporting our community and their support to Hopecam, including two of the team’s crew, Greg Wood and Kenny Gates!