MILWAUKIE — John Brockamp hadn’t ridden a bicycle in 70 years.
But on Aug. 9, the 86-year-old Parkinson’s patient pedaled over seven Portland bridges in a benefit ride sponsored by Providence Health System. He was one of more than 20,000 riders in the Providence Bridge Pedal.
“I didn’t know there were that many bicycles in the whole world,” says Brockamp, a member of Christ the King Parish here. “It was a great experience for me.”
Experts say cycling is one of the best activities for Parkinson’s patients. Brockamp had purchased a solar-powered tricycle to get around his neighborhood and stay active. The Elf, made by North Carolina-based Organic Transit, is part tricycle and part mini car, powered by pedaling or by a solar-powered electric motor. The company began with a Kickstarter campaign.
Brockamp, a retired general contractor who had a hand in many local Catholic building projects, has become one of the region’s foremost philanthropists. He and wife Peggy are donating land that might be used by Catholic Charities. One of the couple’s ongoing projects has been a clinic and water system for the Tarahumara, a tribe of Indians in northwestern Mexico served by a Jesuit mission.
Skilled at making links, Brockamp has worked out a deal with Organic Transit to donate proceeds from Oregon Elf sales to the Tarahumara hospital fund.