Red Cross advocate cyclist to make Gonzales stop, Thursday

Staff Report
Paul Landry of New Iberia is riding in his fifth Red Cross tour.

More than 55 cyclists are hoping to raise awareness and money for the American Red Cross along the disaster-prone Gulf Coast, weeks after floods have destroyed and damaged homes across the area. The 537-mile trip - Tour du Rouge, which began on May 1 - will see the cyclists through Gonzales on day five of their tour.

The group is expected to arrive between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. and will spend the night at the Gonzales Clarion Inn before departing for the New Orleans Riverfront Park - the final leg of the tour

This cycling tour is a physical challenge as well as an endeavor in humanitarianism,” said Kay W. Wilkins, chief executive of the Red Cross in Louisiana. “It allows cyclists to support the Red Cross while doing something they love and to learn about disaster resiliency in areas where relentless storms continue to affect residents.”

The tour’s arriving after weeks of flooding destroyed and damaged homes across Louisiana and Texas and weeks before the start of hurricane season. Cyclists traverse Louisiana communities such as Holly Beach, Hackberry, Sulphur, Moss Bluff, Mermentau, New Iberia, Franklin, Morgan City, Convent, Gonzales, Gramercy and Laplace.

We will be riding through areas that have had flood damage along with tornado damage this year, so the meaning of this ride hits home as we pedal along,” said Lynn Johnson, a Denham Springs cyclist returning for her second tour. “I feel so humbled that all I am doing is pedaling along in honor of all the people that the Red Cross has helped and will help in the future.”

On the final day of the tour, Friday, May 6, cyclists will enter New Orleans riding along the top of the Mississippi River levee and will stop for lunch in Audubon Park. The cyclists will ride together through the French Quarter, led by a police escort, to the river front.

Tour du Rouge continues to grow and attract a diverse group of riders, from the area, across the country, and around the globe. This year’s cyclists are from six states. Ten are from Louisiana. About half of the cyclists are returning Tour du Rouge riders.

Tour du Rouge has become a second ‘family’ for me,” said cyclist Paul Landry of New Iberia, who is returning for his fifth tour. “I have traveled to other parts of Texas and Louisiana to do bike rides and have stayed in the homes of other Tour du Rouge riders. I celebrate their special family occasions, and I grieve with them when they suffer a loss. Tour du Rouge is an annual "family reunion" that I look forward to every year.”