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01-24-09, 08:25 AM
Former Marine improves lives from bicycle seat
74-year-old pedals more than 3,000 miles per year for health, charities


The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Friday, January 23, 2009

Through bumps and breaks, weather and war, Donald Schaet has kept the wheels of his bicycle rolling.

As a youth growing up in northern New Jersey during World War II, Schaet could not purchase a bike because metal and rubber were rationed for military use. So, the industrious teen fashioned one from scrap parts he found.

When the nation celebrated the war’s end in 1945, Schaet rejoiced with the purchase of a new, $39.50 English-style bike that he used to deliver newspapers and commute to school.

Now 74, the East Cobb resident pedals about 3,000 to 4,000 miles a year, including more than half a dozen organized rides, and has participated in as many as 12 in one year. He once rode 200 miles in one day.

Despite five serious crashes resulting in two broken fingers on each hand, a broken hip, numerous lacerations and scrapes, three broken helmets and one destroyed bicycle, Schaet rolls on.

“I feel great and hope to be on the road for another 10 years, God willing,” said Schaet, who supplements his cycling with light weights, push-ups and crunches, yard work and walking the dog. He also hikes occasionally.

Schaet’s childhood love of play and exercise grew during 25 years of serving his country in the Marines, where he developed an exercise regimen of running 90 miles a week and competing in 10Ks, marathons and a 50-mile ultra-marathon through Maryland.

When decades of pavement pounding took a toll on his knees and lower back, Schaet switched gears to focus solely on cycling.

In 1990, he moved to Atlanta to begin a life of serving others and often pedaled to positions as head of various nonprofit organizations dedicated to improving lives. He later joined The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training program, which provides four months of coaching to participants who raise money for the organization. The program allows the father of four to combine his passion for cycling with his desire to help others.

“It was an opportunity where I could do something about [the disease],” said the former executive director of Cure Childhood Leukemia who has participated in 31 fund-raising rides and raised more than $100,000 for research and treatment. “My overall philosophy of life is to be of service to others. This fits in with that really well.”