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Nationwide bike ride honors dad who died on 9/11

Cecelia Kauth
Cecelia Kauth on her ride across the U.S. Cecelia Kauth

Cecelia Kauth, of Saratoga Springs, N.Y., was only 15 years old on September 11, 2001, when her father, Don Kauth, was killed working at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods (KBW) on the 89th floor of the World Trade Center's South Tower.

Special section: 9/11 10 years later

Today, Kauth is 25 and working hard to finish a long, cross-country bicycle ride in her father's honor. Kauth embarked in June from her home in Portland, Ore., and is hoping to finish her ride on Sept. 10, in New York City, in time to attend 10th anniversary memorial services with her family on September 11.

(You can follow her trip's progress here.)

The ride has taken her more than 4,000 miles throughout the U.S., from Oregon's Columbia River Valley, to the Grand Tetons, the Badlands in South Dakota, around the Great Lakes and into hilly upstate N.Y.

Pictures: Scenes from Cecelia's ride across the U.S.

Kauth says biking has helped her to cope over the years. She explained recently to "Eye on Parenting," "When I'm biking, my mind and body get in harmony. It's enabled me to cope with a lot of different emotions."

Kauth says she decided to go on the cross-country ride because of her father's love of country.

Kauth explained, "He really loved this country. ... So I thought, what better way to use something that I love to see the country he loved so much and called home."

Over the months of cycling, Kauth says she's met people from all walks of life across the country.

She said, "(I met) the people that live here that you don't see on the news, the people that are working so hard between the coasts ... that are just living their lives. ... We were on so many main streets of America. We got to meet ranchers and nurses and pharmacists. We met so many people that allowed us to pitch a tent on their lawn. They trusted us as strangers. They were so giving and so trusting and it was so refreshing as a young American."

The long ride was not without its difficulties, however. Kauth says that, on some long stretches of the ride, such as in Montana, they had to carry gallons of water with them.

"It was a little daunting at times," she said. "It got a little risky."

Kauth is raising money from her ride to benefit World Bicycle Relief, a non-profit that gets quality, sturdy bicycles into the hands of people living in extreme poverty in sub-Saharan Africa. Kauth's goal is to raise $15,000 -- an effort that will get bicycles to students in rural Zambia. The bicycles will help students travel to school safely and efficiently (as opposed to several hours walking each way). Kauth's father's employer, Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, has donated $3,000 toward her effort.

Kauth says of cycling, "It's helped me out in so many ways. The gift of a bicycle is so much more than recreation. It's empowering and a valid source of transportation."

She adds, "This is a cause I know my dad would support. My dad always told me to find what I love in life and do it! Now that I am living this dream every day, I want to spread the love and power of a bicycle."

If you'd like learn more about the organization benefitting from Kauth's ride, visit  World Bicycle Relief. In Portland, Ore., Kauth also volunteers with Community Cycling Center, a non-profit organization that teaches bicycle maintenance and safety.

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