Vienna church helps California man on a cross-country mission

Photo by Janelle Patterson Flynn Donoho and Diva ride through Marietta’s streets Monday on a mission across the country to raise money for the American Cancer Society.

MARIETTA — After two weeks without a shower, one California man was thankful for the blessings of a Vienna church and another local business Monday.

Flynn Donoho, 60, of Huntington Beach, Calif., is on a mission with two goals–raise funds for the American Cancer Society, and spread the love of his faith.

But he’s doing both with only a bicycle, a furry companion, and a bike trailer filled with minimal snacks and camping supplies as for a second time he’s set out to ride through all 48 continental states.

“On Jan. 6, 2011, I first set off north up the West Coast in the heart of winter and went all around the perimeter of the U.S.,” he described. “But it took me two years to make it into Maine because of the hurricanes–then I completed all 48 states the first time in 2013.”

In those first two years, he raised $2,000 through crowdfunding to go to the American Cancer Society; now the mission is to touch all 48 states again and raise another $3,000.

Photo by Janelle Patterson A sign on the back of Donoho’s trailer encourages donations to the American Cancer Society.

“It’s what God has called on me to do, I’ve ridden 48,500 miles and meet his children all along the way,” Donoho explained. “With the drugs, I should have died, with close calls on the road with 18-wheelers I should have died, with rattlesnake bites I should have died. But he wants me to keep going.”

Donoho is in recovery from drug addiction, he explained, and after a near-death experience on July 4, 2006, he found a care package outside his tent with a Bible, some socks and snacks inside.

“You become addicted to drugs to escape from reality. I wish I would have found Jesus a whole lot sooner,” he said. “But the change doesn’t happen immediately when you get baptized, I had to work to put that out of my life with his help.”

So Donoho took to cycling, sleeping in a tent along rivers and roadsides, and raising money in the memory of his step-sister who passed away from cancer, an elderly man he cared for who also passed away, and his sister who is in remission for the last eight years.

“When I go across the country I try and stop at the Relay for Life walks, too,” he said. “I hear other stories at the relays where people are walking in honor of those they love, that’s what God has called me to do, just on my bike with my dog Diva.”

Photo by Janelle Patterson Diva stops in the shade with her owner Flynn Donoho, in Marietta as the pair cycle across the country to raise funds for the American Cancer Society.

Cycling on the road since 2011 has only confirmed his faith in his creator.

“Yesterday I stopped at the Vienna Baptist Church, and they were so nice, and they got me a motel, too,” he explained, noting for the first time since setting off from Kentucky the opportunity to shower.

Ruth Dickey, office assistant for the church, said Donoho was even mentioned in the Sunday school minutes for his visit.

And reasons to be thankful didn’t stop there for Donoho, as he rode into Marietta with his traveling companion Diva sitting in a wobbling trailer behind him, he required repairs.

Though Marietta Adventure Company is usually closed on Mondays, co-owner Ryan Smith took the charge and quickly dispatched a repair technician to help Donoho along his way.

“I can get one of my guys down to the shop in an hour, and we can help him on his way,” Smith said when called.

Next stops on Donoho’s trip are fluid, though North with plans to hit Pittsburgh is the general plan.

“There’s supposed to be a rail trail from Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C., and right now I’m sticking to this side of the country–even with all the hills it’s just beautiful,” he said.

Thus far he’s passed back and forth along the Ohio River stopping in Pomeroy, Mason, Point Pleasant and Parkersburg before crossing back to Ohio in Marietta with plans to head north of Ohio 7 through Newport.

He’ll continue to work odd jobs along the way, mowing grass, fixing things.

“Whatever comes as I go, I like to make stuff with things,” he smiled. “But Diva always eats first, she gets the water and the food, and then I’ll try to get snacks and stay hydrated.”

And the pair will pedal on, directing passersby to http://bit.ly/CrowdRiseCancerCycle for all proceeds to benefit the American Cancer Society.

Janelle Patterson can be reached at jpatterson@mariettatimes.com.