By Steve Svetovich
Tour de Scranton for the 14th consecutive year will raise money for those attempting to recover from substance use disorder and related issues.
Betty and Tom Moreken, Scranton, run the annual event in honor of their daughter Erin who died at 28 in 2002 due to an apparent drug overdose.
“We wanted to help others with this disorder,” said Betty Moreken. “We wanted to do something productive to raise necessary funds to help others who may have this disorder and to help them recover.
“A close friend initially suggested a bike ride to raise funds. Well, we started with that in the first year in 2004. We didn’t know what to expect. There was a turnout of about 100 people.
“We have continued it every year and since then there has been a turnout of about 500 every year. We get bike riders from across the entire United States. We get a lot from New York, New Jersey and even Florida. There is a bike rider that comes every year from Wisconsin.”
The event this year is Sunday, April 30. Registration is at 9 a.m. The event begins at 10 a.m, from six different starting points in Lackawanna and Susquehanna Counties.
Route one begins as a walk or bike ride from the Lackawanna Heritage Trail at Olive Street, Scranton.
Route two begins as a 15-mile bike ride from the Valley View Elementary School.
Route three begins as a bike ride from Carbondale.
Route four begins as a bike ride from Forest City.
Route five is a 61-mile round trip bike ride up and around Elk Mountain.
Route six begins at the Lackawanna Heritage Trail head in Blakely for those who want to bike the trail by the river.
All six of the routes will finish up at Scranton High School.
The cost to pre-register is $20 to walk, $40 to bike, $60 for a family, or $20 for a student.
You can pre-register before April 24. It costs an extra $5 after the pre-registration date.
There will be basket raffles, food and drinks and t-shirts for those who participate.
Many local businesses provide donations for the event.
Moreken said $15,000 to $20,000 is usually raised.
“A lot of the contributions are from family and friends and local businesses. We get some of the same sponsors year after year. We meet from September to April to plan this.
“This has been a wonderful labor of love year after year.”
Last year, said Moreken, there were eight $2,000 scholarships awarded to high school students who overcame a drug or alcohol problem or came from a dysfunctional family where there was drug or alcohol abuse.
“We give financial gifts to those who need money for sober homes, child care, health care, even dental appointments. We give in a variety of ways to those recovering from drug and alcohol problems.
“Chris Herren, a former NBA player and college All-American, who is recovering from drug and alcohol abuse, was a speaker for us in 2014.
“We get a lot of volunteers from the Lackawanna County Treatment Court which was originated by Lackawanna County Judge Michael Barrasse.
“Our belief is we can ease the burden of those suffering from this substance use disorder, which is a new term. We can help them on the road to recovery. If we can help save a person’s life, then it is well worth the effort.”