Most college coaches spend their offseason hours with family or preparing for the upcoming season. Most don’t find time for much else, let alone a near-two week cross country trek on Route 66.
However, University of Georgia track and field head coach, Petros Kyprianou, did just that.
In mid-June, Kyprianou rode his Indian Chief Dark Horse motorcycle from Athens to Chicago, Illinois, the starting point of the Mother Road. This was the beginning of his “Ride for a CURE.”
The principal reason for his journey was to raise funds for a non-profit, CURE Childhood Cancer, which works on the prevention and research of childhood cancer.
Eleven days and more than 3,200 miles later, Kyprianou arrived at the Santa Monica Pier.
“The feelings were indescribable,” Kyprianou said. “Bittersweet because you have to ship the bike back, and this is it … And [a journey] that not a lot of people have done, ride a bare bike with no radio or any of that mumbo-jumbo they have now, just a bare, old-school bike.”
In between those thousands of miles, Kyprianou made stops at notable landmarks, diners and cities. For a kid who was born in Limassol, Cyprus, Kyprianou had heard of Route 66 and always marveled at its “mystique.”
He mapped out what stops he wanted to make, and from the Grand Canyon to the Santa Rosa Blue Hole, he made exactly 66 stops.
Kyprianou’s fascination wasn’t the focus of the trip.
He lost his father-in-law and mentor, Dusan Mitosevic, to cancer in 2018. To keep Mitosevic’s memory alive, Kyprianou decided to focus his efforts on helping those with what he believes to be one of the worst diseases.
“My father-in-law lived a good life, he passed at 68, but he did live a great life,” Kyprianou said. “But to me, going back to childhood cancer, I don’t think there’s anything worse, honestly.”
As part of the fundraising campaign with CURE, Kyprianou started with a $25,000 donation of his own. His fundraising efforts have reached more than $40,000 with a goal of $50,000.
Although Kyprianou is a little disappointed that he didn’t receive as many donations as planned, he is still immensely grateful for donations from the likes of the Kirby Smart Foundation, Ric Flair and even some student-athletes.
Jasmine Moore, an upcoming freshman and the 2018-2019 Female Gatorade Track and Field Athlete of the Year, is proud to have a coach who dedicates himself to causes like this one.
“At first I thought he was kind of crazy because he was doing it on his motorcycle,” Moore said. “I know it’s for a good cause and I think he’s such an awesome coach for doing that, something bigger than himself.”
Kyprianou’s journey not only played an integral part in “rejuvenating” and resetting his mind after the past four years as head coach, it also helped put things into perspective for him, proving that he and his program are about more than just track and field.
“You see a lot of organizations that they preach about ‘We’re more than our sport’,” Kyprianou said. “I think you got to put your foot in your mouth and do something that shows that.”