Steamboat Springs Children are supposed to smile, laugh and play.
They aren't supposed to spend days, weeks or months in hospitals.
But illness can strike even the youngest people. It's why Ace Hardware is holding the third annual Tour de Kids bicycle ride from Seattle, Wash., to Gloucester, Mass. The ride benefits children's hospitals around the country that are part of the Children's Miracle Network. Children's Hospital in Denver is part of that network.
Steamboat Springs' Scott Schlapkohl, owner of Ace at the Curve and an avid cyclist, is participating in the Tour de Kids for a second time, and he said he has spoken to many Steamboat residents who have turned to Children's Hospital for care.
"This year, one thing I'm looking forward to is (the ride taking place during) solstice," Schlapkohl said. "It's light so late."
Schlapkohl and New Jersey's Scott Rawlings will ride the first leg -- from Seattle to Missoula, Mont. -- from June 18 to 24.
"Last year, I rode from Missoula to Jackson (Wyo.)," Schlapkohl said. "I wanted to do something different this year. It turns out not a lot of people wanted to ride this leg this year. It will be different. I'm excited. I've never seen that part of the country before."
Schlapkohl will see the Pacific Northwest via bicycle, taking in the sights and sounds as he rides through towns such as Electric City, Wash. and Kellogg, Idaho.
"It's real laid back," he said about the event. "You just have to be prepared for all weather."
The Ace Hardware Found--ation is hoping to raise $1 million for the Children's Miracle Network. Donations given to Schlapkohl and the foundation are tax deductible.
The Steamboat Springs cyclist is hoping to raise $3,000, which is more than he is required to raise, but he enjoys the Tour de Kids and the cause it supports.
"This is the big one," he said.
To donate to Schlapkohl's ride, call him at 846-1951 or visit the Ace at the Curve store at 2155 Curve Plaza.
-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley, call 871-4208 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org