FREMONT -- How far would you go to help a loved one?
John Byrne plans to go 3,000 miles starting Sunday, when he'll begin a bicycle ride from the Golden Gate to the Brooklyn Bridge to raise funds for his sister, Lauren Byrne.
The 22-year-old Newark woman suffered a spinal cord injury in a 2005 swimming accident and is now a quadriplegic. But she has stayed active by playing wheelchair rugby, traveling with friends and attending Ohlone College in pursuit of her dream of becoming a schoolteacher.
"Lauren's attitude is always very positive and hardworking," said John Byrne, a Newark Memorial High School graduate. "She's inspired me to do a lot of things in my life."
That includes "Lauren's Ride," his idea to bicycle across the nation to raise about $60,000. Those funds would go toward the purchase of a specialized vehicle with a ramp and hand controls, which would give his sister a new level of independence.
He plans to complete the 3,700-mile trek between San Francisco and New York City in 36 days, staying at fire stations along the way before arriving at his destination in mid-October.
Byrne -- a 26-year-old engineer at the Cal Fire/San Luis Obispo County Fire station in Nipomo -- said he hopes to ride about 100 miles per day.
Through dinners and auctions this year, the fundraising effort already has garnered about $22,000, and corporate
Bids are being accepted online at for high-end auction items, including vacation rentals in Kauai and Lake Tahoe, at www.laurensride.org, a website where Byrne's cross-country journey also can be tracked.
Another dinner has been scheduled Saturday night at Niles Veterans Hall in Fremont to give Byrne a rousing sendoff. Space is limited for the event, which will cost $20 per person. Those attending can bid on items at a silent auction.
"It will be a night of fun for a good cause," said Laura Stewart, a relative of the Byrne family.
Contact Chris De Benedetti at 510-353-7011. Follow him at Twitter.com/cdebenedetti.
WHAT: Fundraising dinner for "Lauren's Ride"
WHEN: 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Niles Veterans Hall, 37154 Second Street, Fremont
COST: $20 per person