Illinois teenager makes a stop in Daingerfield

Jeff Varwig prepares to leave Greer Farm in Daingerfield to continue his bicycling mission to raise money for Angel Tree.

By Marlene J. Bohr

A young man with a big heart bicycled through Daingerfield the first week of August and did not let the heat stop the mission that he began July 16. Jeff Varwig, 17, of Chicago, began his quest to raise money for the Angel Tree Christmas project in Chicago at the Canadian border in Minnesota. His overnight stop in Daingerfield was intended to be at the State Park; however, when he arrived, he discovered the park was closed for renovations. He was led to contact Sid and Eva Greer of Greer Farm in Daingerfield where he spent the night of Aug. 3, before continuing on his journey. “I have sponsors back home who are giving money for me to do this ride,” Jeff said. “I also have met people along the way who have been asking me questions. Some people have wanted to give also. I wasn’t expecting as much along the way, but people have been really generous.”

He said his main objective was to get people in Chicago to support Angel Tree.

“They give toys at Christmas,” he said. “It started off giving Christmas presents to children of prisoners, but they also do other things to support them. If they can’t afford to feed their families, the Angel Tree helps pay for the food for families throughout the year.”

Jeff’s parents fully support his endeavor to help others by taking this bike trip.

“My parents are always careful and want me to make sure that I pay attention to my safety as I go,” Jeff said “My dad has done a lot of cycling with me, so they know I am capable. They also know I have prepared well for this, so I shouldn’t have any problems too big for me to handle.”

He said it was a treat for him to spend a night at Greer Farm. Mr. Greer met Jeff at 9 p.m. at Dollar General in Daingerfield and took him to the farm for the night. After breakfast, Jeff continued on his way to Galveston, hoping to be there by Aug. 7.

“I have stayed in a variety of places, sometimes near the road,” he said. “I have stayed in bed and breakfasts and sometimes in motels. It wasn’t as hot when I started, but it has been more of an issue recently. I have tried to ride in the mornings and the evenings and avoid the middle of the day. I stop fairly often to get water during the day as I sweat so much. That helps me get out of the heat every hour and a half when I go get some water.”

The time has sped by for Jeff as he has been averaging 85 to 100 miles per day.

“I usually try to ride 100 miles a day, but have now gotten to where the heat keeps me from riding so much,” he said. “It’s going down to 80 to 85 miles a day.”

Jeff carries bags, along with clothes and supplies.

“I have racks that go over each wheel of the bike,” he said. “I have four bags with things, small bags, but big enough to fit the clothes and supplies that I need.”

In addition to riding for a good cause, Jeff said he has enjoyed the trip.

“I have gotten to see a lot of interesting things as I’m out riding eight hours a day,” he said. “I have enjoyed the scenery and how it changed since I’ve gone across the country. It is different than when I started.”

Jeff will return to school this fall as a high school senior.