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Oppy sponsors Race Across America squad

Long known for moving fresh produce around the world swiftly and safely on vessels, trucks and planes, Oppy is now helping one of its own travel across the United States — on a bicycle.

Executive Director of Marketing Karin Gardner is a member of Love, Sweat & Gears, a four-woman squad participating in the 2022 Race Across America, which rolls out from Oceanside, CA, on June 18. Spanning more than 3,000 miles across a dozen states, the event is billed as the world’s toughest cycling race. The team is racing to raise awareness and funds for Gaia Home, a new non-profit in Gardner’s home state of North Dakota that brings a compassionate new approach to end-of-life care.

“Oppy’s generous sponsorship means the world to our team, but especially to me personally, of course,” Gardner said. “If all goes well during the race, we’ll cross the finish line in Annapolis, MD, within a few days of my 30th anniversary at Oppy. The company has invested in my personal and professional growth over these many years, and its participation in our Race Across America bid has gone straight to the heart of one of the largest challenges in my life. We’re very proud to wear the Oppy brand prominently as we ride across the country.”

The Love, Sweat & Gears relay team also includes renowned North Dakota endurance athletes Melanie Carvell, Lori Klabunde and Kilee Harmon, Gaia Home’s executive director. The racers will be escorted across the country by a stalwart support crew of 14 friends and relatives, including Gardner’s sister, Kim Ellis, who has trained as the team’s alternate, and crew chief husband Mike Gardner.

“Good nutrition for the racers and crew will be critical to our success,” Gardner said. “A steady regimen of fresh fruits and vegetables is absolutely essential. While planning the meals for the group, we are assuring a wide assortment of fresh produce is available to everyone to help keep energy up and spirits high.”

The team will ride non-stop through the day and night, climbing more than 175,000 feet over the Sierra, Rocky, and Appalachian mountain ranges; crossing the Colorado, Mississippi, Missouri and Ohio Rivers and the Great Plains, and passing through the Mojave and Sonoran deserts and Monument Valley.

“We hope to complete the race in a week or less, though that will take a great deal of luck and probably a tailwind through Kansas,” Gardner said. “We are enormously blessed by the friends and businesses who have stepped up to support us on this adventure and share our belief in the uniquely worthy cause of Gaia Home.”

For those facing the final season of life, in-home hospice care is a desirable option, but is not always feasible as it does not provide for housing or round-the-clock caregiving, so these responsibilities fall on family and friends.

“A neighborhood of residential units and community spaces, staffed with 24-hour qualified medical care specializing in the end-of-life journey, Gaia Home takes the difficult caregiver role off of families’ shoulders, and provides them and their loved one with adequate space to live together in privacy and peace, giving them the chance to treasure their precious time together, allowing for a beautiful final passage,” Harmon said.

Proceeds raised through Love, Sweat & Gears’ fundraising and racing efforts will be donated to Gaia Home. You can learn more and support the team by clicking here: thegaiahome.org

Photo: Karin Gardner, Kilee Harmon, Melanie Carvell and Lori Klabunde.

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