United4Health, a four-person cycling team with an average age of 70, will set off Saturday, June 16, on the Race Across America (RAAM), a seven-day, 3,000-mile ride from Oceanside, Calif., to Annapolis, Md.
United4Health, sponsored by UnitedHealthcare, will begin its journey at the Oceanside Pier and will cross 12 states, pass through 88 counties and 350 communities before finishing in Annapolis at the City Dock Saturday, June 23.
The Race Across America is known as the world’s toughest bicycle race and is one of the most respected and longest-running endurance sporting events in the world. Amateur and professional athletes ages 13 to 75 will come from all over the world to participate in this challenging event.
United4Health cycling team members are Don Metz, 72; Michael Patterson, 70; Durward Higgins, 70; and David Burnett, 68. A 15-person crew, including drivers, mechanics, a nurse practitioner, a massage therapist and a cook, will support the cyclists along the trip in two RVs, two minivans, and a crew chief's car.
For seven days, the United4Health team will ride around the clock, raising funds for the Trust for Public Land and Shape Up America. The team members will cycle in a relay style, with one rider racing at a time.
“I cycled for fun for many years and then turned to racing at the age of 63,” said Patterson. “I've learned it takes a lot of discipline. It takes a lot of commitment, but it’s very rewarding: the rewards of health and just the fun of riding your bike fast. I feel a real sense of accomplishment, of being totally engaged in something and having goals and then reaching them.”
Three of the team members began competitive cycling later in life. Metz first raced at age 65; Patterson at 63; and Burnett at 59.
“I call Michael Patterson ‘the Sultan of Cycling.’ Before he turned 70, he set a goal for himself to race across the country with three other 70-plus cyclists. It is inspiring because it shows us that we all need goals,” said Reed Tuckson, M.D., executive vice president and chief of medical affairs, UnitedHealth Group. “It doesn't need to be a cross-country race; it could be crossing other personal boundaries that have held you back. You need to identify your goals, own them and achieve them.”
For more information about the United4Health cycling team and to follow their progress during the RAAM, visit www.united4healthracing.com. To support the United4Health cycling team with a donation, visit www.united4healthracing.com/donate/.
UnitedHealthcare is dedicated to helping people nationwide live healthier lives by simplifying the health care experience, meeting consumer health and wellness needs, and sustaining trusted relationships with care providers. The company offers the full spectrum of health benefit programs for individuals, employers and Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, and contracts directly with more than 650,000 physicians and care professionals and 5,000 hospitals nationwide. UnitedHealthcare serves more than 38 million people and is one of the businesses of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE:UNH - News), a diversified Fortune 50 health and well-being company.