‘My sore butt for your big bucks!’


John Merrow, a retired PBS broadcaster living on Martha’s Vineyard, plans to do an 80-mile bicycle fundraiser on his 80th birthday, he told The Times in a brief phone conversation.

Beginning in 2011 on his 70th birthday with 70 miles, Merrow has successfully continued this tradition of bicycling his age each year since. This year, he wants to call the fundraiser: “My sore butt for your big bucks!” he wrote in an email. The money he raises will go to Island Housing Trust, he wrote.

“However, the challenge is becoming tougher as my body ages and the distance increases,” Merrow wrote. 

Despite the difficulty, Merrow is still spirited. “An athletic nephew has suggested that I switch to kilometers, and that day may be fast approaching….but not this year,” he said. 

Due to predicted poor weather on his actual birthday June 14, Merrow told The Times he will be riding his bicycle on Saturday, June 12. 

In his email, Merrow made a pitch to those who received the message. “I hope that many of you will open your wallets and contribute $80, $800, or some other multiple of 80 to a significant charity,” said Merrow. “If you will post your pledge on the blog for all to see and if I don’t make it, I will personally make good on your pledge.” 

Merrow suggests donors give to IHT since they are “building affordable housing for the Island’s teachers, firefighters, and others who keep things running.” 

In Merrow’s blog, The Merrow Report, other organizations he suggests giving donations to are the Education Writers Association, The Hechinger Report, Chalkbeat, The Network for Public Education, or a local food bank.  

For those who wish to make a pledge to donate, visit The Merrow Report and post a donation pledge in the comments section of “Cycling For Cash, Biking For Bucks.”


  1. What a great way to rally the community behind an important cause. If only others would make such a fundraising effort. Thank you Mr. Merrow!

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