Interview with Damian Kevitt: Valley Finish the Ride Coming Sunday!

By now, I shouldn’t have to tell you who Damian Kevitt is. Everyone knows his story of falling victim to a hit and run in Griffith Park, nearly losing his life and fortunate to have only one leg amputated.

If you believe Damian took action the moment after this tragedy happened, then you’d be right. He has been a tireless campaigner for safe streets and is one of the most prominent voices in the community.

Finish the Ride’s first event kicked off in 2014 and is now expanding beyond Hollywood. Here’s a little back and forth between me and Damian to give you more details.

You know I’m glad Finish the Ride is coming to the valley. What took so long?

I’m super excited about FTR Valley.  I grew up in the Valley, riding around the Valley and Sepulveda Basin on my bike as a kid, so this is coming home.

Finish the Ride has a lot going on. Can you possibly sum it up?
FTR Valley is awesome.  It’s the true vision of the Ride, Run Walk n Roll idea. There’s a 25 mile bike ride, nice and flat, on protected bike paths for those who want a comfortable fully supported post holiday ride.
Then there’s my favorite, the first ever, Metric Century TOUR DE VALLEY — 68 miles, 3000 feet of elevation gain, fully supported with 3 rest stops, sag wagon, etc. There’s also a 5K, 10K, Half Marathon for the runners and a 5K/10K roll for rollerbladers, rollerskaters, skateboarders, wheelchairs, etc.
There’s also two firsts!  A free 2K walk for family in the amazing Japanese gardens (that most people don’t even know exist) and the first ever cyclocross races in Woodley Park.
Not to already be looking ahead, but what does Finish the Ride have planned for 2016?

FTR started as a single event and grew into a movement, now under the care of it’s own non-profit Streets Are for Everyone.  We’ve come a long way and learned a lot since that first amazing event.  There’s a lot more I will no doubt continue to learn. I always want to do and grow things faster but life sometimes has a reality check. FTR Valley is the first in a series of Finish the Ride, Run Walk n Roll events that will occur across the Southland this year.  There’s the original FTR Hollywood on April 10th and also FTR Santa Clarita that is in development and will be announced shortly.  There’s also requests to do one in OC area.  All of them designed to engage local people media and politicians in raising awareness of street safety and handle hit and run crimes.

And all of this is a pre-curser, setting up the pieces for something bigger down the road. Oh, if I could tell you now!

Other than doing the ride, how else can people get involved?
Yes, we want people involved!!!  We need tons of volunteers setting up the day before and on the day of.  If you volunteer you can earn a free pass for the next FTR event and the joy and satisfaction of starting off the new year knowing that you’re helping to make the streets safer for everyone.We also need donations.  There’s so many future activities and plans worked out for SAFE.
Despite that we are basically a volunteer based organization, there’s still funds needed to pull these campaigns off.  Anyone can donate to help support all the activities FTR and SAFE is involved in — legislation, awareness campaigns, media and education. Its the end of the year and the best time to give.
We also need additional volunteers and advocates to help on the campaigns that SAFE has going or planned.
Are we going to see another marathon in your future?
Marathon? Yes, I’ll do another.  The first was brutal on my body.  I’m surprised I could finish it but I was determined to make it happen.  It was my final goal after my hit and run. Now I’m working on better building up parts of my body that are still weak before I tackle a new marathon. Maybe in 2 years.
Damian going on a little 26.2 jog known as the LA Marathon!
S.A.F.E.(Streets Are For Everyone) just launched this year. Tell people a bit more about it and what is in the works.
SAFE encompasses the mission of FTR, but expands the campaigns.  FTR is an event, always will be.  It’s cool and grassroots.  SAFE gives the movement a more professional image that also works on education, policy and planning, and sets the organization up to be able to go national.  Right now SAFE is statewide with reps up and down the state of CA.  We’re starting our first chapter in another state which makes us nationwide.  Not bad for an organization that’s only been in existence for less than a year.
Lastly, the question everyone wants answered: is life better without the goatee?
Life without the scruff…well the best thing is everyone thinks I look younger by 2-4 years now.  Considering that I’m marching into my 40th birthday, I need all the help I can get!
If you want to register for any of Sunday’s events, sign in here