Indiana doctors ride across the country to help those in need

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – A team of cyclists led by a Hoosier surgeon are cycling across the country to help those in need.

Dr. Mike Berend, a surgeon at the Midwest Center for Joint Replacement, leads the team in the Race Across America, a 3,100-mile ride from San Diego, California to Annapolis, Maryland.

“It’s an epic experience deemed to be the hardest bicycle race in the world. And I think five days into it, we would confirm that,” Berend said.

The team is comprised of four riders, all of whom are medical professionals, eight crew members, with from various professions include one pastor,  and four vehicles. During the race, a rider always must be on the road, so wheels are turning 24/7. They operate in 30-minute shifts, getting sleep, food and recovery wherever they can fit it in. The team began the race on June 15 in San Diego and will finish on June 22 in Annapolis.

“We’re five days into an experience that’s draining emotionally, physically draining, nutrition isn’t quite right, sleep isn’t quite right,” Berend said.

While the race is a grueling challenge, the team is using it to raise money for Operation Walk Midwest, a not-for-profit which provides free joint replacement surgeries for those in need. The team is raising money to go to Guatemala next year, where Berend and a team will perform at least 100 joint-replacement surgeries in four days.

“It’s a real amazing opportunity to give back to people that you don’t know, but they can tell you care. And that you’re there to give them the same opportunity that we have in America,” Berend said.

Team members say they know the idea of cycling across the country in seven days may seem a little crazy, but that end result is a life changing experience for those in need. So for them , the pain and fatigue is more than worth it.

I know how meaningful and life changing your health is. When you don’t have it, when you do have it, or when you have it given back to you,” Dr. Andy Isch said.

For more information about Operation Walk Midwest, you can click here.

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