Will Collins, a Montauk School physical education teacher, took part in the Ride to Montauk on May 31 and exceeded his $500 goal, raising $1,400 for Katy’s Courage.
Mr. Collins said he was working at the Lobster Roll restaurant on Napeague the night after he was hired by the school on May 31 of last year and learned about the Ride to Montauk from a group of bicyclists he was waiting on.
“I quickly tried to decide how I could tie the event to the kids at the Montauk School,” he said by email.
While he was placing platters of fish and chips on the bicyclists’ table, it came to him that he would get the students involved by letting them decide by vote from which point he would start, knowing that they would choose the farthest point.
“What student deep down inside doesn’t want to punish their teacher?”
He asked Rick White, the school’s computer resource teacher, to make a map of the route for him. Mr. White suggested he donate any money he raised to Katy’s Courage, an idea that Mr. Collins quickly agreed to, as he had previously participated in the Katy’s Courage 5K in Sag Harbor and found it to be one his favorite days of the year for the overwhelming feeling of community it inspired.
He also had a soft spot in his heart for Katy Stewart, who died at 12 of a rare pediatric cancer, because she was one of his students when he was a student-teacher at the Sag Harbor Elementary School.
When a plan was set for him to start in Babylon, students began donating coins from their pockets, and staff members and teachers pledged $1 per mile that he rode. Mr. Collins wanted to do the full run from Penn Station in New York City, but Ride to Montauk organizers talked him out of covering that distance on his first try — a good point, especially since the wind that day was against the riders.
“I never knew I could regard the wind with such disdain,” he said.
After stopping at his house in Southampton for a quick nap, Mr. Collins went on to bike a total of 108 miles. Feeling energized, he was able to ride from Water Mill to Camp Hero in Montauk without stopping, a feat he found challenging but ultimately rewarding.
Mr. Collins is not related to Katy's mother Brigid Collins, an assistant principal at the Montauk School.