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Saint Xavier University student bikes 300-plus miles for Down Syndrome

Steven Bugarin treks to St. Louis in two days

Chicago (June 19, 2007) – When Steven Bugarin sets out to do something, he does it with quiet determination. So when he got the idea to ride his bicycle to St. Louis, Mo., in two days to raise money for Down Syndrome, it came as no surprise to anyone that he accomplished the daunting task.

“Just getting there was my main goal. I’m just happy it all worked out in two days,” said Bugarin, 21, a senior from Chicago’s East Side who’s also a standout on Saint Xavier’s cross country and track teams.

Bugarin raised more than $500 for the Down Syndrome Association of Greater St. Louis, and presented it to the organization at a “Lose the Training Wheels” bike training workshop in Chesterfield, Mo., outside of St. Louis. Bugarin rode his bike the additional 30 miles to the workshop, which teaches children with disabilities to ride bicycles.

“Being there and seeing those kids riding bikes was amazing,” Bugarin said.

Jeff Pomranka, chief operating officer of the Down Syndrome Association of Greater St. Louis, said Bugarin’s feat was hard to believe.

“I think he did an amazing thing, especially since he’s not a bicyclist by trade and just decided to do this,” Pomranka said. “I am constantly blown away by what people will do for our organization. It’s hard to describe how we feel about people who are willing to do things like this for us.”

Ed McAllister, Bugarin’s track and cross country coach, drove down in his car to help Bugarin navigate historic Route 66.

“I would drive up ahead about 15 miles and see if we were going to encounter any questionable turns and resolve those issues before he got there. We had a little problem getting through Bloomington because of a detour, but other than that, there were no mechanical problems or anything,” McAllister said.

The same perseverance that has helped Bugarin run helped him through the long bike trek, McAllister said.

“It takes an awful lot of determination to do that, especially all by yourself. It takes a mental fortitude,” McAllister said.

Bugarin is no stranger to challenges. Early this spring, he suffered from runner’s knee, waylaying the winner of 40 races for part of the track season. Undaunted, he turned to cycling, riding some 40-plus miles a day. From there he got the idea to bike to St. Louis to raise money for Down Syndrome. He chose the cause after meeting relatives of two close friends who had Down Syndrome.

“I want to give a big thank-you to everyone who supported me, especially my coach, who took two days in his car to go with me,” said Bugarin, who wants to be a high school history teacher after he graduates.   

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Founded by the Sisters of Mercy in 1846, Saint Xavier University was the first Mercy college in the United States and is Chicago’s oldest Catholic university. Serving approximately 5,700 students at its campuses in Chicago, Orland Park and its Loop location, the University offers 35 undergraduate majors; more than 40 graduate program options in arts and sciences, business, education and nursing; and a variety of program options in continuing and professional studies. Recognizing Saint Xavier’s excellence in education, U.S. News and World Report has ranked SXU consistently among the Best Colleges in the Midwest.

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