May 12, 2024
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May 12, 2024
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Springfield Teen Raises $10K Biking Cross-Country for Friendship Circle

Samuel Artman, 17, has always been athletic, and greatly enjoys all sorts of outdoor sports and activities. One of his newer favorites, which he took up during the pandemic, is biking.

“I had a lot of free time during COVID, so I got really into it,” Artman, known as Sammy to his friends, shared with The Jewish Link. “I would bike around my town, at parks, wherever. It was just a fun thing to do that got me out of the house for a while, which was especially nice because of how often we were stuck inside.”

Artman eventually decided to try and pair his newest hobby with a bit of chesed. He learned about Wheels of Love, which raises money for a children’s hospital in Israel, and eagerly signed up. In the end he raised over $1,500.

“It felt great,” Artman said. “I knew I was doing something good with my time and making a difference. The fact that I got to do it while biking made it all the better, because I really was able to have fun with it.”

Once Artman completed Wheels of Love he quickly began searching for his next challenge. This time, he wanted to go bigger, and Bike 4 Friendship Across America was just what he was looking for. The program is a cross-country biking tour/fundraiser, starting from San Diego and ending in Coney Island. All the money Artman raised would go to The Friendship Circle.

“It was a good fit, because I had already volunteered a lot with [The Friendship Circle],” Artman noted. “It’s an organization that means a lot to me, so I was ready to do what I could to help them out. I signed up and quickly began to train.”

Artman trained vigorously over the next few months, balancing his schooling at Rae Kushner Yeshiva High School in Livingston with 4 a.m. wakeups to ride. It was especially tough because, as a junior, it was SAT and ACT year.

“This was one of the hardest years for me because of all the things I had going on,” Artman said. “I was exhausted for most of it, but I knew I just had to keep pushing. And so I did what I had to do and made it work.”

When the tour began, he and the other participants started by dunking their tires in the Pacific Ocean. They would do the same in the Atlantic Ocean once they finished, signifying how the tires had touched both sides of the United States.

And then they were off.

“Not going to lie, it was brutal,” Artman shared. “Some days we’d wake up at midnight and start riding at 1 a.m. to beat the heat, and we’d average 90 to 100 miles a day. The days would consist of biking, eating, recovering and resting. Shabbos became the greatest thing ever. It’s already amazing, but I appreciated it so much more because it was a break to relax and really think about what we were doing and why.”

They were not alone. Following the bikers in a van were staff from the program, keeping tabs on everyone and making sure they were staying hydrated and focused.

Artman really enjoyed getting to see the country. “It was really cool,” he said. “America has a lot of long plains and open fields, and it was really beautiful seeing the sunrise every day. It really made you appreciate the beauty in the world.”

Finally, after six weeks of riding, Artman and the other bikers arrived in Coney Island. Artman’s family greeted him at the finish line, and he described dunking his tires in the Atlantic as a very cathartic moment.

“It was just something that was building up in my head through the entire tour,” Armtan said. “Just thinking about what it would feel like to finish. Sometimes I didn’t think I would, but I did, and it was amazing.”

In the end, Artman raised over $10,000 for The Friendship Circle, a tremendous achievement by any standard.

As for his favorite part of the experience, he says it was pushing his body to the limit.

“You really see what you’re made of on the trail,” Artman shared. “I pushed my body as far as it can go, both physically and mentally, and a lot of it is mental. The staff that followed us said it’s 90% mental and 10% physical, and they were right.”

So what’s next for Artman? He has college applications and his final year of high school on his mind. He eventually wants to bike in Europe, and see more of the world.

His advice for others looking to do similar out-of-the-box activities is to not be afraid of doing different things.

“You have to be comfortable being uncomfortable,” Artman said. “It’s always good to step out of your comfort zone, because then you can see what you’re capable of. So be ambitious, and don’t be afraid to try new things.”

If you would like to learn more about Bike 4 Friendship, visit their website at 

Adam Samuel is a journalist from Teaneck. He blogs at

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