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Jackson with Gov. Robert Bentley at Children's Harbor

Bo knows bikes

By Graham Dunn

Bo Jackson admitted there was a time in his life when he was more interested in stealing bicycles than using them for a good cause.

“I wasn’t much about riding back then (as a child),” Jackson said with a smirk.  “But now, I ride for a different cause.”

The iconic sports figure led the fourth-annual Bo Bikes Bama charity ride over the weekend from Auburn to benefit the Governor’s Emergency Relief Fund.

So far, the event has raised close to $800,000 for the relief effort, which originated soon after the April 2011 tornadoes swept through much of the northern part of the state.

“I said ‘Bo, your idea is fantastic’ and he put this idea together and invited so many people to come an ride with him,” said Gov Robert Bentley. “That brought a lot of attention to this state.”

“I watched what happened (when the tornadoes hit) and I realized just how much that would impact the state,” Jackson said. “Those storms just missed my hometown (McCalla) so I felt the need to do something.”

In four years, Jackson has attracted more than a thousand cyclists to participate in a ride that has stretched across the state of Alabama.  Money raised has impacted thousands in the state that have dealt with destruction from weather-related tragedies.

“A lot of people start an event with good intentions and then their good intentions wane,” Bentley said. “Bo said ‘I am going to do this as long as you need it.’ And I said, ‘well, I’ll wait and see.’ And you know what? He has done it. And I am so proud of Bo.”

Jackson’s event has also attracted several stars from the sports world including cyclists Lance Armstrong, Tommy Mulkey and Christian Vande Velde. This year, several athletes will participate including Auburn head football coach Gus Malzahn and athletic director Jay Jacobs as well as former quarterback Cam Newton.

Jackson also invited a former NFL foe Brian Bosworth to participate. The two are known for a momentous play during a game on Monday Night Football where Jackson dragged the former Oklahoma linebacker into the endzone for a score.

“I believe his wife got him interested since she is a cyclists/spinner herself,” Jackson said. “So he is going to be a part this year.

“The hard part is putting everything together. We have a good company outside the state that helps us but most everything is put together here in the state. A lot of people have worked hard to make this a reality.”