The homecoming cheers of several dozen people Monday drowned out the sirens of Buffalo police and fire vehicles escorting bicyclists Dr. Dave Cywinski, Tony Glosek and Dr. Dan Alexander on their final approach through Niagara Square toward Buffalo City Hall.
The three native sons of the Seneca-Babcock neighborhood, riding to raise money for a new community center there, arrived to a hero's welcome just before 5 p.m., ending a 2,504-mile journey that began July 29 in Seguin, Tex.
Their arrival also officially completed an 8,141-mile bicycle trip the trio had begun 25 years ago that was cut short after Cywinski and Glosek were struck by a pickup in the Texas city. Alexander was the only rider to finish the trip in 1986. Monday, he crossed the finish line again with his buddies.
"It wasn't just a joyride with my friends," said Alexander, who practices medicine with Cywinski at the Finger Lakes Bone and Joint Center in Geneva.
The men hope that a new community center will help youth in Seneca-Babcock aspire to success, Alexander said. "We wanted to finish what we started We biked about 100 miles per day, and here we are," he said.
The three men say they "grew up" at the Seneca-Babcock Community Center and the Babcock Boys Club. Good leadership there put them on the right path many years ago.
"We're trying to 'pay it forward' a little bit and trying to help out," Alexander said.
Cywinski said that "2,500 miles on a bike isn't that hard."
"You just got to put your butt on a seat and stick to it," he said, explaining that it's a good metaphor for life.
Cywinski hopes that neighborhood youths find hope in their ride. "You can do anything you want as long as you put your mind to it."
Glosek, at the end of the long journey, said the men are clearly more than friends.
"We're brothers," he said.
Rep. Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo, hailed the men as "three stars" of the Seneca-Babcock neighborhood as he joined other dignitaries in welcoming the bicyclists home and announcing Saturday's official start of fundraising for a new Seneca-Babcock Community Center.
"It's a victory for the Seneca-Babcock neighborhood," Higgins said. "These three stars are going out there to raise awareness and raise funds so the next generation of residents can have the benefits they did."
Visit the ride's website at www.biketripforkids.com.