A Clarks Green resident is headed home after completing his cross-country journey to California on two wheels while raising money for PeacePlayers International.
On Aug. 4, Leo Walsh started a cycling journey from the East Coast to Venice Beach Courts, California, with just a bike, tent, sleeping bag and camp stove. On Saturday, Oct. 17, Walsh made it to the Venice Beach Courts, where family members greeted him.
“It feels pretty great,” Walsh said. “After a few years of having it marinate in my head as just an idea, it’s a bit surreal to have successfully completed it. There’s nothing quite like taking an idea and turning it into a memory. I tried my best to stay present throughout the trip and soak it all in, because it’s not something that many people get to experience in their lives. I realize how lucky I am.”
He hoped to raise $25,000 for the cause that he has a lot of faith in and has so far pulled in over $9,000.
“I biked to raise money and awareness for PeacePlayers International, a nonprofit that uses basketball as a vehicle to promote peace and to build youth leaders in the community,” Walsh said.
Basketball has long been part of Walsh’s life. He played the sport at Scranton Preparatory School and published a basketball hoop-focused photo book, “Peach Baskets,” featuring images from a previous trip across North America, earlier this year. After this journey, he plans to publish another.
“I’m looking forward to getting home and compiling all of the pictures of hoops that I’ve taken and hopefully making them into another coffee table book,” Walsh said. “After that, I’d love to move to Philly or back to New York City, but I ultimately would like to build something in Scranton. I have a newfound love for this place and its people after bicycling through countless small towns across the country. There’s something about building upon your roots, where your loved ones are, that really appeals to me. We’ll see.”
Walsh came up with the idea for this current trip three years ago.
“A ton of preparation went into this, from buying the correct bike a year ago (shout out to Cedar Bike Shop in Scranton), to getting the correct gear, to researching exactly how one bikes across the country. … Hours and hours of research and preparation over the course of many months,” he said.
Walsh brought a camera as well as a basketball with him, and at each stop, he took a photo of each basketball hoop he played at.
“It’s just such a beautiful game. I’ve loved it my entire life,” Walsh said. “My brother and I would play all the time growing up in our neighborhood.”
Although Walsh has always had a passion for basketball, he only recently got interested in photography and biking.
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“I would bike around (New York City) a lot, and bike to and from work, but that’s really it. This was my first bike tour,” Walsh said. “Photography was something I’ve picked up over the last few years. I bought a used Canon 5D back in 2019, and I’ve been playing with it and teaching myself ever since. It’s been fun.”
While Walsh said the bike trip was a tough journey, he enjoyed it.
“It’s been difficult but fun,” he said. “There’s a freedom to it that’s indescribable. I can truly go wherever I want and be OK. I love it. I missed my family and a lot of life’s small luxuries, such as a bed, shower, sink, etc. I felt like a king every time I stayed in a hotel. I also really missed my mom’s homemade scones.”
For more information
The public still can donate to Walsh’s effort. To donate, visit https://peaceplayers.networkforgood.com/projects/105812-peach-baskets-fundraiser.
Follow his journey via @peachbaskets on Instagram or at peachbaskets.net or peaceplayers.org/raising-awareness-and-funds-for-peaceplayers-one-pedal-at-a-time.
To buy Leo Walsh’s book, visit peachbaskets.com/shop.