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Retired German firefighter cycling across the country for a cause

Richter is cycling for Care-for-Rare, a charity that focuses on raising awareness for rare childhood illnesses.
Published: May. 27, 2022 at 7:54 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - For the past two months, one retired firefighter has been traveling across the country. For him, it’s his role in helping raise awareness for a good cause. And he’s hoping to spread that message for each community he stops in along the way.

With a special-made bike and plenty of gear to go along with it, this isn’t the first time Jörg Richter has traveled across the country.

“The first was 2015 from Seattle to New York, as the crow flies, only three months. In 2018, I cycled from San Francisco to New York, with a lot of zig-zagging in the National Parks in the southwest, through the Rockies.” Richter said.

The 62-year-old retired firefighter from Munich, Germany, is now working on his third cross country trip. Richter is cycling for Care-for-Rare, a charity that focuses on raising awareness for rare childhood illnesses.

“Care-for-Rare looks for kids with rare diseases, the so-called ‘orphans of medicine,’ because there are not that many kids with diseases like that. About 8,000, we know about. Most of them are still deadly, incurable, with no medication.” Richter said.

He travels with a teddy bear, the a similar one he’d take to children’s hospitals along the way.

“Due to COVID, not this year. I always had boxes with Teddy Bears waiting at the hospitals for me, so that I had something to give to the kids.” Richter said.

Richter also meets with local fire departments along the way, and often stays with them as well. Mitchell Fire Marshall Shannon Sandoval said they were more than happy to open their doors to Richter, as one of their own.

“It was told to us that he was a firefighter from Germany who was retired. That in itself, being a firefighter in the United States. I’m so curious about the aspects of his job. You know, how different is it? Is it the same?” Sandoval said.

Richter said the bond between firefighters, even internationally, is strong. He says he’s been fortunate to meet so many others that serve the same as him.

“It’s never been a problem, yeah? Even without calling ahead, which mostly one chief calls the other, is not complicated. Even if I’m not able to make a contact, especially in the rural parts.” Richter said.

Richter still has thousands of miles to go on his trip, and the Mitchell Fire Department is wishing him the best.

“You know, I think about my own physical attributes. I would never think about biking across the country.” Sandoval said.

Richter spent Friday traveling to Huron. He said he has stops yet in Redfield and Groton before leaving South Dakota. In total he’s biked about 2,500 miles so far this trip, with only 4,000 to go. More on Jörg and his efforts with Care-for-Rare can be found here.

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