Helping friends has never been more important and Tony Finn gets it.
“It’s about giving people a chance to have some joy, some fun and get out and exercise,” Finn said. “And do something that is good for the world.”
Bike for Humanity is global in scope, but local to the core and Finn is all in.
Finn, of Encinitas, isn’t just a spoke in the wheel for Bike for Humanity on April 25. He’s a driving force in joining with his buddy, Bill Walton, to raise dough for victims of coronavirus and health care professionals combating it.
“Without Tony, we are nothing but a flat tire,” said Walton, the basketball legend.
The pals put their heads together on how to assist during this national emergency.
“I was watching the news and was freaked out and bummed out at the same time,” Finn said. “I was like, ‘Man, I can’t sit here and do nothing,’ so I called Bill and said, ‘What can we do, man?’ ”
With Walton’s affection for cycling and Finn’s vigor and business connections, Bike for Humanity was born.
Participants are invited to pedal their bikes, wherever, for two hours on April 25. But only in places where they can practice social distancing, doing so in a manner that recognizes the 6-foot-11 Walton with riders asked to stay separated an extra 11 inches.
“Hopefully they can walk out their front door and start riding their bike,” Finn said. “The whole concept is you are apart but we are all together spiritually in the universe for humanity.”
While Walton has the reach, both literally and figuratively, to get the concept rolling, it’s Finn’s acumen that is equally important.
Finn, 57, is considered the godfather of a San Diego pastime after starting Liquid Force wakeboards. He’s also woke about what’s needed to battle coronavirus.
“Tony knows all there is to know about the groove,” Walton said. “He invented the sport of wake boarding. He has ridden that big wave to the pinnacle of success. Now with Bike for Humanity, Tony has created the biggest wave of all—just for us, to ride all the way to the promised land.”
Bike for Humanity is free to all. But after watching your wheels rotate, Finn and Walton are hopeful kindness follows.
Riders donating $25 receive a medal, while those contributing $50 also get a Bike for Humanity T-Shirt. For $250, generous riders also receive a signed thank you card from Walton and are entered into a prize drawing.
At $5,000, cyclists are flown to San Diego on an all-expenses paid excursion to pedal with Walton, someone who always rides high in the saddle.
For those unable to disengage the kick stand — think bad weather or bad timing — they can donate as well.
“People are super-duper excited about it,” said Finn, who is on the advisory board of events.com and is also involved in the San Diego Sports Innovators, which encourages sports entrepreneurs.
“Everything is so freaking negative, we decided to inject some positiveness and joy into this horrible situation by helping all these people at the same time,” Finn said. “That was what the message is and it is definitely resonating with folks.”
Walton, whose affection for his bike rivals his devotion to the Grateful Dead, doesn’t hesitate to sing Finn’s praises.
“Tony has a heart, spirit and soul, that is a combination of a perfect inspirational sunrise, an ever-bubbling cauldron of kindness and generosity, followed by a celebratory sunset, in recognition of a job well done,” he said.
Job No. 1 is ridding the world of coronavirus through a ride for all ages. Those eager to lend a hand, and possibly their legs, can register at bikeforhumanity.com.
Contact Jay Paris at email@example.com Follow him @jparis_sports
Sportswriter Jay Paris has written his “Sports Talk” column since joining the Coast News in 2013.
Paris, a Cardiff resident, is a longtime Southern California writer, getting his start with the Orange County Register before coming to San Diego in 1992 to cover the Chargers.
He had the Chargers beat for more than two decades with Oceanside Blade-Citizen, the North County Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune, before being named a sports columnist with the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Paris has won numerous awards voted on by his peers in the Pro Football Writers of America. He has also been a staple on countless media platforms, everything from the KPBS to MLB Network and various radio outlets.
Paris is also the author of three books, with his latest one being, “Shohei Ohtani: The Amazing Story Of Baseball’s Two-Way Japanese Superstar.” He has also written “Game Of My Life Chargers” and “Game Of My Life Rams.”
He currently covers the NFL in Los Angeles for Forbes. com and is a contributor to USA Today Sports Weekly. Follow Jay on Twitter @jparis_sports