Cycling 4 LIFE Visits Ocracoke

Rob Temple
Robyn, Brad, and Jim
Robyn, Brad, and Jim

April is National Autism Awareness Month and three adventurous souls from the mountains are doing their part to raise awareness in a very creative way. 

They are taking a 500-mile bicycle trek from “Beech to the Beach.” They started on April 4 from Beech Mountain, N.C. and will finish the trip today at the beach in Buxton.

The project is the brainchild of retired exceptional education professor Jim Taylor who seems to have an unlimited number of ideas for helping autistic kids and their families along with catchy acronyms for labeling purposes. As founder and president of the local non-profit KAMPN (Kids with Autism Making Progress in Nature), Dr. Taylor hosted 24 autistic kids and their parents at Camp Cogger near Boone last summer free of charge.

He proudly points out that 22 of those 24 kids caught fish in the camp’s pond!

The success of KAMPN, which will operate again this summer, inspired Jim to make plans for a far more ambitious project, LIFE (Living Innovations For Exceptional), a permanent, year-round village on a 40-acre property near Boone where adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder can live purposeful lives within a supportive community. Through online fund drives, bake sales, donations and grants Jim hopes to have this project up and running in three to five years. On May 23rd KAMPN will host a fundraiser featuring a Barney Fife look-alike! 

A cycling enthusiast for over thirty years, Jim has ridden not only in the U.S. but also Belgium, Canada and New Zealand.  Only a few months ago in a bicycle shop in Boone, Jim met Brad Hardie, 63, a retired airline pilot and his wife Robyn, also cycling enthusiasts who, like Jim, had participated in various other biking events to support worthy causes. This was the origin of what they came to call “Team JAB”  (Jim And Brad) and plans were made for the Beech to Beach fundraising bike ride. 

The plans suffered a bit of a setback when, a month before the starting date, Jim had to undergo surgery, rendering him less than fit for the upcoming ride. Bloodied but unbowed, Team JAB transitioned into Team JABR (Jim And Brad and Robyn) with the Hardies on bikes and Jim guarding their backs by automobile. 

Thirteen towns along the route (including Ocracoke) supported the venture by providing meals and housing as well as local press coverage.  The Current’s editor Sundae Horn was sent a press release and invited to interview team at their rooms in the Pony Island Motel or by joining them later as they dined at Howard’s Pub. Having prior commitments, she once again called upon the dubious journalistic talents of her rarely-overworked spouse. After all, I was, for at least a semester, a journalism major at UNC back in the dark ages (pre-word processors when white-out tape was the staff of life).

My own biking record is somewhat unimpressive. If I were to bicycle from here to the Hatteras ferry I’d expect to be received there by a brass band and the national press, to say nothing of an EMS team. I have, however, been known on occasion to drink beer for worthy causes so the mention of meeting at the Pub at 5pm sort of got my attention.

I took an immediate liking to these three fine travelers, as would anybody, and threw in for a pitcher of draft.

The Bikers
The Bikers

I was impressed not only with their enthusiasm for the bike journey, but also their dedication to the cause of helping autistic kids and their families. They pointed out to me that while one person in sixty-eight suffers from ASD nationally, the North Carolina ratio is one in fifty-eight. And while our schools provide some special care for the autistic, once they leave school and enter the adult world, they’re pretty much on their own. And obviously their parents are not always able to care for them.

It makes a powerful case for the need of programs like KAMPN and LIFE. You can find out more about all this and, even better, donate your support. To donate to Cycling4LIFE’s Go Fund Me page, visit or send check to KAMPN, Inc. 1255 Wildcat Ridge, Deep Gap,  NC 28618. All donations are tax-deductible

For more information on KAMPN, visit


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