LANSING, N.Y.—Jay Dietershagen crossed the finish line right around 6 p.m. on Thursday afternoon, a blue and gold ballon-adorned arch at Myers Point in Lansing that marked the end of a journey that spanned thousands of miles over the last several days. A small crowd including friends and family welcomed him back.

Dietershagen, the owner of Lansing-based Crossroads Bar & Grille, was finishing up a 13-day ride from Ithaca to Buffalo to New York City then back to Ithaca. He pedaled the trip with the goal of raising $12,000 to fight hunger in Tompkins County, specifically among schoolchildren. In total, Dietershagen covered about 1,600 miles.

By the end of his ride, Dietershagen said $6,000-7,000 had been raised total, with more to come from the evening’s festivities at Myers Park. He posted updates to the Crossroads Facebook page throughout his journey.

“I just tipped my bike over in front of a bunch of people, but it feels awesome,” Dietershagen said after finishing the ride. “I’m kind of excited about not having to sit on the bike for endless hours. But that’s kind of a bittersweet thing because we’re doing it for the right reasons. Hopefully, this moves the needle, and it gets people more aware of food insecurity and, obviously, it helps the families that are in need the most.”

The goal of the program is to provide groceries for students who need them when school is out for summer and school-provided lunches are unavailable. The project is a collaboration between Dietershagen, Tompkins County Farm Bureau, Groton FFA and TST BOCES FFA.

Dietershagen’s rides will benefit six schools total, with the goal of reaching $12,000 and being able to give $2,000 to each school.

“It’s always been kind of near and dear to me,” Dietershagen said. “I will say, over the last three years, we’ve really ramped that up with COVID being such an issue and people being cooped up in their houses.”

Matt Butler

Matt Butler is the Managing Editor at the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached by email at mbutler@ithacavoice.com