LEWISTON — In 2014, the American Lung Association of the Northeast will host the 30th annual Trek Across Maine, the organization’s largest fundraiser nationwide. On Wednesday, Jan. 29, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., trekkers, potential trekkers, volunteers, friends and family are invited to attend the first Beer & Bikes of the New Year at Pedro O’Hara’s, 134 Main St. The local pub and Mexican Cantina will lend their name to a Trek Across Maine cycling team again this June, just as they did last year.

Nelson Pray, 43 of Lewiston, will head up the Pedro O’Hara’s Trek Across Maine team for the second year, alongside co-captain Patrick Waitt, 41, of Wales. Waitt, a longtime friend of Pray’s and a veteran trekker, encouraged him to sign up last year as part of his goal to lose weight and get in shape.

Pray admits that before last year’s Trek, he failed to adequately train to ride 180 miles in three days. He struggled a bit on the first day — the Trek’s longest route — until he was unable to finish with about 5 miles to go due to dehydration. Support staff taught him how to stay better hydrated during the weekend; he crossed the finish line on both Saturday and Sunday and reveals that it wasn’t until day three that he was able to focus on his beautiful surroundings.

Pray spent every day cycling following last year’s Trek, waking up at 5:30 a.m. each morning, until the weather became too cold to do so. He is excited to start training for 2014 once the temperature permits.

In 1999, Pray lost his mother to cancer. She was originally diagnosed with kidney cancer, which was ultimately categorized as renal cell carcinoma and eventually the cancer traveled to her lungs. Doctors say that because Nelson’s mother was a heavy smoker, that too much damage had been done.

“I truly believe my mother — a heavy smoker — could have lived a longer life if she had even some of the tools that are available today,” said Pray. To honor his mother, Nelson participates in the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life each year alongside his brother, Keith Pray. Keith has been actively involved with Relay since their mother’s passing, in addition to working with Healthy Androscoggin as a tobacco support facilitator at St. Mary’s Hospital.

Beer & Bikes are unique and fun social gatherings intended to prepare trekkers for the upcoming Trek Across Maine, catch up with old Trek friends and make new ones. The night includes beer, food, trivia and prizes. There will be an opportunity to register for the Trek that evening. American Lung Association staff will be on hand to answer any Trek-related questions.

The 30th anniversary Trek Across Maine will run from June 13-15. Each trekker is responsible for a $65 registration fee and a $500 fundraising minimum. Incentives are offered for any participant who raises more than $1,000.

Admission to Beer & Bikes is free, however, registration is encouraged. RSVP to [email protected] or 207-624-0302. Registration and more information on the Trek is available at TrekMaine30.org.

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