TROY — Michael Salhaney, 52, an attorney for Secrest Wardle in Troy, lives in Bloomfield Hills and tries to ride 100 miles each week on his bike.
As he has done since 1999, he will ride his bike 300 miles from Traverse City to Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan, with members of his bicycle riding club, Team O-2, as part of the Make-A-Wish Wish-A-Mile Bicycle Tour July 27-30.
The tour also features a 50-mile ride and a half-mile ride for those ages 5-13.
Salhaney said that he found out about the WAM tour in 1998 when he was an assistant prosecutor for Oakland County, and he did the 50-mile ride.
According to the Make-A-Wish website, “Since 1984, Make-A-Wish Michigan has granted more than 8,500 wishes to Michigan children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy. Make-A-Wish Michigan serves children throughout the entire state and is funded through community support. More than 80 percent of each dollar spent directly benefits the Michigan wish-granting program.”
“WAM is our largest annual fundraiser for the organization and is essential to supporting our mission,” said Christy Schulte, communications and public relations manager for Make-A-Wish, via email. “We anticipate raising $2.5 million this year from WAM, which will help us reach our goal of granting more than 450 wishes to Michigan kids this year. The average value of our wishes is $10,000, so a fundraiser like WAM is critical to our mission.”
Kids play a part in the WAM ride.
“As riders go through the route, we have wish kids at our lunch stops to talk about their wish experience, which encourages our riders as they continue their ride. On Saturday night at our overnight location at DeWitt High School, a wish kid will emcee our award show called the WAMmys,” Schulte said.
“At the finish-line celebration called Heroes Hurrah, more than 3,000 riders, wish kids, families, volunteers and supporters will celebrate at Michigan International Speedway. Wish heroes, who are wish kids that riders and volunteers are participating for, award medals to participants after they cross the finish line. I hear over and over again from riders that their highlight of WAM is having their wish hero place a medal over their head after completing the 300-mile ride,” Schulte said.
“Everybody rides in honor of somebody,” Salhaney said. “You wear a bracelet. When you look down and see a child’s name, you may be hot, achy or tired, but you realize, ‘I’ve got no right to complain.’ You don’t want to let that child down. You get to meet the families and the heroes.”
The cyclists drive up to Traverse City July 27 and start the 300-mile ride July 28. He said the longest riding day is Saturday.
He planned to do a 100-mile ride with the Ann Arbor Bicycle Touring Society in Chelsea, Michigan, July 8 as a mini test run for the 300-mile ride.
“What’s going to go wrong? Will I get tired at 80 miles? If I push from my average speed of 18 miles an hour up to 19 miles an hour, will I really tire myself out?” he said.
Salhaney said he enjoys giving back. He typically raises between $1,500 and $2,000 for the ride, with help from his church, Pine Hill Congregational Church in West Bloomfield. Also, his law firm does Jeans for a Cause fundraiser each Friday, when employees pay money to various charities in order to wear jeans to work. Salhaney said the firm donates proceeds from three Jeans for a Cause days to him for the WAM ride.
“I encourage anybody who is thinking about it to sign up,” he said. “Do the 50-mile route. It’s designed to be a challenge.”
“Interested riders or volunteers can go to our website, WishAMile.org,” Schulte said. “Our event website has subpages that apply to different individuals based on their interest in WAM.”