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Everyday Heroes 2014

Riding for a reason

St. Charles bike shop owner motivates cyclists, fundraises

Sammy Radi owns Sammy's Bikes in St. Charles.
Sammy Radi owns Sammy's Bikes in St. Charles.

Sammy Radi said the great thing about cycling is that anyone can learn how to ride.

“The more you do it, the better you are going to get at it,” said Radi, owner of Sammy’s Bikes in St. Charles.

Radi said cycling is in his blood. His father, Hanoudeh Radi, was a cyclist, and he passed on that passion to all four of his sons.

Radi said he has been in the cycling industry for 32 years, 22 of which were spent at his former shop, Spokes, in Wheaton. Radi opened Sammy’s Bikes in 2007 in St. Charles and moved there to be close to the area bike trails.

Radi also said good things can be accomplished through cycling. About eight years ago, Radi started a team to ride in the two-day, 150-mile Bike MS: Tour de Farms in DeKalb. The event funds programs and MS research, according to the National MS Society Illinois Chapter.

Radi also embarks on an annual interstate trek to raise money for different causes that was started in 2010 by his friend Dr. Bob Maganini. This year, Radi and 13 other people from his cycling club rode more than 540 miles from Salt Lake City to Denver and raised $7,200 for Madi Beetham, an 11-year-old Yorkville girl fighting cancer.

“It was really a great success to know that we helped the girl even a little bit,” Radi said.

The club also raised money by organizing a separate ride in July from St. Charles to Madi’s home, to be there when she returned from a treatment session. Madi is an outpatient at Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago.

She is at the start of a two-year treatment process to fight Stage 4 Lymphoblastic lymphoma, a form of cancer.

Madi’s father, Brad Beetham, said the riders’ support has great significance with his family. Madi is insured, but there are numerous expenses still involved with her treatment, including the commute to Chicago from Yorkville.

“It means a lot, obviously,” Brad Beetham said of the riders’ efforts. “It’s pretty impressive that they did it.”

Radi helped people with all levels of experience train for the two-state ride, which concluded Sept. 6.

“It’s good to ride with a group because it’s safer and you push yourself more,” Radi said. He noted there are casual group rides three times a week at his shop. One of the regulars, Audrey Ernst, nominated Radi as an Everyday Hero.

Ernst met Radi unexpectedly in 2011 when she discovered his bike shop while riding near Mt. St. Mary Park in St. Charles. It was the same year Ernst started participating in triathlons.

Ernst said that Radi dismissed critics who said she wasn’t good enough to compete in triathlons.

“I saw the potential in her,” Radi said. “She had that personality where she’s dedicated, where she’s into the sport.”

Sure enough, Ernst won the USAT Triathlon Nationals in the summer of 2013. This year, she qualified for the Team USA World’s event.

“I want to celebrate Sammy and tell him ‘thank you’ for all he does for me and everyone,” Ernst said. “His kindness does not go unnoticed.”

The Radi lowdown

Who he is: Sammy Radi

Town of residence: St. Charles

Age: 52

Family: Two daughters, Renad, 25, and Nour, 29

Hobbies: Cycling. He used to work on bikes until he opened the shop. Then that became his job.

Fun fact: He rode the entire length of the Highway 1 trail through all of California over two and a half months. That was his break after leaving his former shop, Spokes, but before opening Sammy’s Bikes.

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