By Nicole Davis
For the past six years, Dirk Cushing has biked an average of 600 miles in the month of September (previously June) for the Great Cycle Challenge, a fundraiser benefitting the Children’s Cancer Research Fund. This year, he’s nearly doubling that – and his fundraising goal.
Cushing will ride 1,000 miles this month in an effort to raise $12,000 in the names of two young boys, Lucas Barrett, 14, and his brother Samuel Barrett, 6. He typically fundraises in honor of one child but this year there are two, so he decided he needed to increase his mileage and fundraising goal as well. Rain or shine – and there’s been plenty of rainy days already – he intends to ride every single day to meet that goal.
Cushing, a Greenwood resident and a deputy prosecuting attorney with the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office, began biking approximately eight years ago as a way to continue exercising after a running injury. He joined the Great Cycle Challenge six years ago, this making his seventh challenge. Since the Great Cycle Challenge began in 2015, riders have completed 25,647,476 miles and raised more than $52 million for the Children’s Cancer Research Fund, a nonprofit dedicated to generating funding to find new treatments and cures to pediatric cancer. Cushing has ridden 4,778 miles and raised $34,150 in that time.
Cushing heard about Samuel through a former coworker. Samuel had been diagnosed with leukemia at the age of 3. Cushing decided to bike this year with Samuel as his inspiration, when he got a call that his brother Lucas just received a diagnosis of Hodgkin lymphoma.
“I thought well, time to ride for two,” Cushing said. “Two kids from the same family. I can’t even imagine the devastation that would have on a family. Maybe in some little way, I can do something to help.”
The Barrett brothers are from Valparaiso, Ind. Cushing was able to meet with them and get to know them a little better prior to taking on this year’s challenge. There, he learned that Lucas enjoys fishing and wrestling. Samuel is in a Little Ninja class and desires to be a blackbelt.
If he exceeds his goal by 50%, or $18,000, Cushing will hand over the hair clippers to Lucas and Samuel and they can take turns shaving his head. As of Sept. 10, Cushing raised $672.76 toward his goal and had ridden 342.1 miles.
Anyone wishing to follow Cushing’s progress or contribute, can visit greatcyclechallenge.com/Riders/DirkCushing.
What do you consider your greatest virtue? I try to look for the good in all people. I impress on my younger co-workers that even good people sometimes make bad decisions.
What do you most deplore in others? When one person treats another person as though they are beneath them. I do not care what your station in life is; treat others with kindness and respect as you would want to be treated, even if you were down on your luck.
What do you like most about living in Johnson County? The fact that I have the advantages of the city so close by but have all the advantages of a smaller town. Johnson County has been a great place to raise our four children, with great schools and a friendly atmosphere all around.
If you had to live elsewhere than in Johnson County, where would it be? Right in the middle of a huge forest, with trees surrounding you as far as your eyes could see. (Nashville, Ind. would probably fit that bill.)
If you could begin life over, what would you change? I don’t know that I would change anything. Life at times is a bit of a roller coaster ride, but that certainly keeps things interesting, and I would not have wanted to end up anywhere but where I am right now.
If money were no issue, how would you spend it? I would do my best to use it to help as many people as possible.
What makes you happiest? Spending time with my family, riding my bike and working with the young attorneys at my office, watching them grow.
What is your favorite vacation spot? St. George Island in the Florida Panhandle up to this point, but I believe after next month it will be St. John Island in the U.S. Virgin Islands. My wife and I are heading there next month to celebrate our 30th anniversary.
What do you do with idle time? Ride, run (and probably surf on the internet waaaay too much).
What is it that makes you angry? Seeing somebody treat another person with disrespect or an animal unkindly.
What do you do to escape from reality? Why would I want to escape from reality? I have a wonderful life, a beautiful wife, four spectacular children and our first grandchild (a granddaughter) on the way.
What or who is the greatest love of your life? Theresa Marie Cushing
What is the quality you most like in a person? Kindness and compassion
What is your greatest extravagance? We don’t live very extravagantly, but we did buy a small parcel of land in Brown County on a small lake. For my wife and I that was going out there a bit.
What are your fears, phobias? I don’t have many fears or phobias. I trust that the chute will open (it did) that the bike will make it around that corner with all the gravel (it always has) that my children will be happy and healthy (so far so good).
What has been the happiest time of your life? Oct. 17, 1992 (my marriage and the “acquisition” [LOL] of my two oldest daughters); April 20, 1995 (the birth of my son); and March 3, 2003 (the birth of my youngest daughter)
Which talent would you most like to possess? The ability to dunk a basketball
What do you most value in your friends? Honesty, loyalty and trust. But to get that you have to give it as well.
What is your greatest regret? That I didn’t invest everything I had in Amazon about 20 years ago! LOL!
What tenet do you live by? Anyone who has known me for any length of time knows that my motto is “Don’t sweat the small stuff . . . and it’s all small stuff”