John Stoop made the drive from Philadelphia to participate in what has been billed as one of the most popular road races in northwest Pennsylvania. But Stoop didn’t even make it halfway through his 20-mile course in the Citizen’s Race before chose to hang it up.
Someone along the course needed his help. And despite his 350-mile, six-and-a-half-hour drive to Meadville, Stoop didn’t even think twice about foregoing the race to offer a hand; neither did Dr. Anisha Shah and Dr. Nirav Shah of Pittsburgh, who had signed up for 30 miles of cycling.
About eight miles into his run, Stoop was flagged down to help a 15-year-old girl — also competing in the tour — who had been stung by a bee and allergic. Stoop turned his bike around and traveled about a half-mile back up Tamarack Drive to summon for help.
“I was worried about her shortness of breath,” Stoop said. “She got stung on the forehead and you could see where she got stung.”
It wasn’t long before the Shahs reached the scene — just one lap into their race.
“I did anything a parent would do,” said Dr. Anisha Shah, a cardiologist. “I’d want someone to stop. I was happy to be there.”
“It is amazing how everyone came together when someone was in need of help,” Dr. Nirav Shah said. “There were about three or four first responders there. One of them had their own EpiPen.”
Among the first responders was a member from the Crawford Amatuer Radio Society, which had members stationed all throughout the tour course. They also responded to a bicycle wreck early in the race. The rider suffered scrapes and cuts.
An ambulance did eventually respond to help with the bee sting victim as did West Mead Volunteer Fire Company. Dr. Anisha Shah said it appeared the girl was going to be fine.
“She’s okay,” Shah said.
“Thank goodness,” Stoop said with a sigh. “That was far more important than a bike race.”
Lending a hand
The organizers of the Tour de Tamarack had some additional help this year.
Saegertown senior Zach Klins helped organize the event as his senior project. Klins said he had known Nina Bell and was into fitness, so thought the Tour de Tamarack would be a perfect fit for his project.
He just had no idea just how much work goes into planning the yearly event.
“I had absolutely no clue,” Klins said.
Klins was in charge of sending out brochures, collecting sponsors and door prizes, and race day setup, which including sweeping the course. He said he put in between 40 and 50 hours helping.
One of Klins’ most important jobs, perhaps, came at 9 a.m. when he got to sound the horn for the first group of cyclists in this year’s event.