VERO BEACH — Fifty-five years. Fifty-five miles. Fifty-five dollars. Fifty-five is the magic number for Bill Penney, who is celebrating his 55th birthday on Sunday, May 22. In keeping with a tradition he started for his 50th birthday milestone, Penney is going to skate 55 miles to raise money for the American Red Cross North Treasure Coast Chapter.
As the president and CEO of Marine Bank & Trust Co., headquartered in Vero Beach, Penney will trade out his usual “banker’s suit” attire for a bike shirt, shorts and roller blades, capped off by a helmet with a side mirror so he can see traffic behind him.
Penney will be skating along A-1-A, beginning at 6:00 a.m. (weather permitting) from South Beach Park. From there he will follow a circuitous course through South Beach, Rio Mar, Central Beach and Riverside Park, then head north on A1A to Sebastian Inlet with some side jaunts through the parks along the way. Penny expects to finish around noon or 1 p.m. back where he began, at South Beach Park.
Skating his age in miles was something Penney began when he turned 46, and when he reached the 50-year milestone he added a new component to it: skating for a charity. Five years ago he raised more than $5,000 for the United Way of Indian River County, for which he was co-chair of the fundraising drive that year.
“I’ve long admired the great work of the American Red Cross in our community and across the country, so it wasn’t difficult to decide to skate for them this time around,” explained Penney about this year’s choice.
Although the hard work is being done by Penney, it won’t be a success without community support. Pledges per mile (or flat pledges) are now being accepted, with a $1 per mile ($55) minimum suggested.
“This is such a unique and unexpected fundraiser for us,” said Sarah Tippet Ruwe, CEO of the American Red Cross North Treasure Coast Chapter. “We are thrilled that Bill decided to include our organization in the fun this time around!”
Checks may be sent to the American Red Cross, 2506 17th Avenue, Vero Beach, Florida, 32960, or secure online donations may be made through www.pbtcredcross.org/skate55.
For more information about Bill Skate 55 or the services of the American Red Cross, call 772-562-2549.