Largest Cross-Country Bicycle Ride in U.S. History to Benefit American Lung Association

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IRVING, Texas (June 15, 1998) - Today, more than 730 cyclists armed with a bike, sun block and a dream will embark on the largest, cross-country cycling event in American history - the GTE Big Ride Across America. Over the next 48 days, the riders will cover 3,254 miles across 12 states before arriving in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 1.

The GTE Big Ride's goal is to raise $8 million gross to benefit the American Lung Association and its fight against lung disease - America's third leading cause of death.

"Our riders are undertaking a courageous adventure - one that symbolizes our efforts in the fight against lung disease," said John Garrison, chief executive officer, American Lung Association. "We're thrilled that GTE helped make this all possible."

Riders in the GTE Big Ride come from 49 states and all over the world. From Seattle, the ride will travel through Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Washington, D.C. During their journey, the riders will take in numerous sites, including the Rocky Mountains, Mt. Rushmore, the Badlands and the Appalachian Mountains.

Each of the riders in the GTE Big Ride has a reason for dedicating 48 days of their life to the ride - family members lost to lung disease, senior citizens to put an exclamation point on their life and people with asthma to show that lung disease doesn't have to be debilitating. In addition, many riders have extremely special circumstances.

Consider that:

Mary Thompson (San Diego, CA) is paraplegic;

Trevor Banka (Fort Gratiot, MI) is 18 and lost a leg to cancer in 1993;

Tony Quici (Roswell, N.M.) is 73, nearly deaf and on his sixth cross-country ride;

Mary Pierce (St. Joseph, MI) received a double lung transplant in 1993; and

Fred Griffin (Scranton, PA) is 71 and received a prosthetic heart valve in 1984.

Supporting the riders is a crew of more than 200 professionals and volunteers, including a medical staff, bike technicians and kitchen personnel who will prepare hot meals and staff pit stops along the ride route. Each night at camp, riders can witness a technical marvel in the GTE Big STAR (Satellite Telecommunications Assisting Riders) - a rolling technology center that will power a satellite dish, directional antenna and data server. From the GTE Big STAR, riders have access to 25 laptop computers, 100 high-powered cellular phones, a 40-inch TV and e-mail.

As part of the effort to raise funds for the American Lung Association, GTE Long Distance has introduced a special offer available to both new and existing GTE Long Distance customers. For every new service contract signed or transferred from an existing contract, GTE Long Distance will donate five percent of the long distance portion of every monthly bill to the American Lung Association. Customers can benefit from some of the lowest rates in the industry and help those suffering from lung disease at the same time.

"We are proud to help the American Lung Association spread the message of lung health," said Butch Bercher, president, GTE Communications Corporation. "And we're thrilled to be able to offer the public an easy and affordable way to support the American Lung Association - by simply choosing GTE as their long distance carrier."

For additional information on the GTE Big Ride and its cross-country route, visit To contact your local American Lung Association office, receive additional information on the GTE Big Ride or take advantage of the GTE Long Distance offer, call 1-800-GTE-4ALA.

GTE Communications Corporation

As a world-class telecommunications company, GTE offers a vast array of products and services, all aimed at moving customer ideas from one place to another. With more than two million long distance customers and over 21 million U.S. phone lines, GTE moves the most precious cargo of all - your ideas.

American Lung Association

The American Lung Association has been fighting lung disease for more than 90 years. With the generous support of the public and the help of our volunteers, we have made many advances against lung disease. Along with our medical section, the American Thoracic Society, we provide programs of education, community service, advocacy and research. The American Lung Association's activities are supported by donations to Christmas Seals and other voluntary contributions.

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Editor's Note: For a complete press kit or information on a rider local to your area or to arrange an interview, contact Andrew Shane at (214) 363-8860.

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