Family is crossing the country for a cause

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The Jenkins brothers, from left, Dennis, Bobby and Raleigh, spent a couple nights in Sandpoint this week as they make their way across the country raising awareness and funds for two charities close to their hearts — the Moss Pieratt Foundation and A Child’s Hope. (Photo courtesy CHELSEA JENKINS)

SANDPOINT — Bicycling 3,500 miles is no easy feat, but doing it for a good cause helps ease the aching muscles.

Three brothers from Texas, Bobby, Raleigh and Dennis Jenkins, stopped in Sandpoint this week en route from Anacortes, Wash., to New York City in an effort to raise funds and awareness for two charities close to their hearts — The Moss Pieratt Foundation and A Child’s Hope. Bobby's daughter, Chelsea Jenkins, and their mother, Sandy Jenkins, are piloting the support and gear vehicle as well.

The group resumed their trip today after two nights at the Edgewater Resort, and Jenkins said they "absolutely loved" the stay in Sandpoint.

"I think this has been our favorite town so far — it's so cute and charming," said Chelsea Jenkins.

The first charity the brothers are riding for was started by the Jenkins family after Chelsea Jenkins' nephew and Bobby Jenkins' grandchild, Moss Pieratt, died suddenly at 15 months old.

"He was a perfectly happy, healthy boy," Chelsea Jenkins said. "Nothing was wrong with him."

But her sister put Moss down for a nap one day and when she came back to check on him, he wasn't breathing.

"We left the hospital with no answers ... that's a really hard thing to accept," Jenkins said.

Moss's death is classified as Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood, which affects kids between the age of 12 months and 17 years. In 2015, 393 deaths of children within that age group were classified as SUDC, according to sudc.org.

After her nephew's death, Jenkins said the family started the Moss Pieratt Foundation, which promotes awareness and raises funds to find a cause or cure for the sudden unexplained death of children over the age of 12 months. The funds go directly to the SUDC Foundation to support those efforts. The Moss Pieratt Foundation has also funded a three-year fellowship at New York University Langone Medical Center for research on SUDC.

"No one wants to accept that 'I don't know what happened,' and we won't accept that, so what we are trying to do is raise awareness, because a lot of people don't even know about it," Jenkins said. "So raising awareness and raising funds for research so that we can find answers and prevent this from happening to other families. No one should have to go through this loss."

The other charity the brothers are riding for is A Child’s Hope, which creates a home for lost and abandoned children in Haiti. Each of the brothers owns their own pest control business in Texas and Jenkins said her uncle, Raleigh, was the president of the National Pest Management Association when the 2010 earthquake devastated Haiti. Representatives were sent to Haiti to help with pest control and teach others how to do it. Raleigh went to the country 14 times, Jenkins said, and his brothers went a couple times as well.

"After two years, they accomplished a lot for the pest control, and Raleigh just felt like his work there wasn't done," Jenkins said. "Every time he had gone (to Haiti), he'd seen all these little children lost and abandoned, so he felt drawn to starting this and helping these children."

With a Christian foundation, the focus of the foundation is education, as well as the physical and mental well-being of each child. A Child's Hope just built their first home where 48 children can live and grow up.

Every donation received during the ride, dubbed "Brothers Bike," goes to the two nonprofits. 

Averaging about 70 miles a day, Brothers Bike has been a success thus far with good weather and good attitudes, even with the difficult ride over the Cascades to start the trip.

"It's hard to have a bad attitude when you are so passionate about these two causes," Jenkins said. "That's a huge motivation for them, but also the scenery and the weather has been perfect."

Donations can be made online at brothersbike.org. Information is also available on the website, including daily updates and a map following the brothers' journey across the country. 

Mary Malone can be reached by email at mmalone@bonnercountydailybee.com and follow her on Twitter @MaryDailyBee.

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