Before he started training in June, Chuck Anania hadn’t been on a bike in more than 20 years—so, his 500-mile ride across the tri-state area is no easy task.
“It’s been hell! I can tell you that New York and New Jersey has way too many hills, and I would proposed that we level them and make all the streets flat,” joked the 39-year-old roofing contractor.
“Thank God for Extra Strength Tylenol and Ben Gay!”
Anania is the founder of Roof4Roof, a roofing company based in Montclair, NJ, that installs free emergency roofing to needy homeowners for every roof they install for a paying customer.
Since starting the “500 Miles for 500 Roofs” tour in Trenton, NJ, on July 24—Anania has biked through Nanuet, New City and Peekskill, averaging about 35 miles a day. He will arrive in Westchester Monday and will pass through Port Chester and White Plains in the afternoon. The North Arlington, NJ, resident will be in New Rochelle before making his was to his final stop at Times Square in New York City.
“I thought it would be a good way to create awareness that we exist and we’re here to help people,” said Anania. “I’m not Lance Armstrong by any means, but I didn’t think it would be this tough. It’s pretty exhausting and challenging, but I have no problems compared to a lot of other people—so, I’m not complaining.”
Anania started Roof4Roof in 2010 after visiting a poverty stricken village in Columbia where families lived in tiny makeshift shacks with collapsed roofs, created from pieces of scrap lumber and other items they find, like street signs.
“The level of poverty overseas is much more pervasive, much more stark and depressing,” said Anania. “It was obvious to me that something needed to be done. When I came back from my trip, within a couple of months a saw a program about TOMS Shoes and it sort of clicked in my head the idea of one for one.”
Like TOMS Shoes, who donates one new pair of shoes to a needy child for every pair they sell—Anania says Roof4Roof is able to donate one emergency roof or roof repair per paid roofing job they complete since homes overseas could be one sixth the size of a home in the U.S. Since 2010, Roofs4Roofs has donated more than 100 roofs. It started in Columbia, and expanded to Guatemala, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and will be in India in October.
“The most difficult part of this is not seeing my family in about 10 days,” said Anania. “I have two small kids and not being home and tucking them in every night, that’s probably been the hardest.”
However, Anania says the ride to promote his ambitious goal of trying to get 500 new customers so he can donate 500 roofs is all worth it knowing that his efforts may inspire some to help families have a safe roofs over their heads.
“I’m waiting to see what the end result is and how many people are interested in the project, and how many people are moved to call us,” said Anania. “We’ve gotten about 12 or so people call in last week for help. I really appreciate all the support we’re getting, especially from all the hotels that donated rooms for the trek. Hopefully people in need will find out about it and people who can help will see that it’s a worthy project they want to support.”
For more information visit: www.roof4roof.org.