Group honors local cyclist, helps young people find their passion

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TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Steve Tilford was a native of Topeka and a graduate of Topeka High. He went on to become a world-famous cyclist. He was a world champion several times, a national champion.

Steve died unexpectedly after a car crash in 2017. Just launched in November, the Steve Tilford Foundation was created in memory of Steve.

He not only competed at the highest level, but he also taught others and shared his passion for cycling.

“He was a real mentor to me,” said Catherine Walberg, co-founder of the Steve Tilford Foundation. “I was not a competitive cyclist when I met him, but through his coaching and his help I went on to win two national championships. It was really a great credit to him and then the people that surrounded him that really were nurturing and really demanded the best but in a fun and meaningful way.”

Steve Tilford, Catherine Walberg and Ned Overend won their respective Masters Cyclo-Cross National Championships in Providence, Rhode Island in 2006. (Photo from Catherine Walberg)

The Steve Tilford Foundation is focused on getting young people on their bikes, whether that be through clinics or competitive racing.

The foundation is based out of northeast Kansas, but they have a statewide and national reach.

“We really want to start local first, and really build from here because that was what Steve was about. He called Topeka his home,” Walberg said. “Even though he raced all over the world, he always came home here and trained and was very committed to this local area and sharing really his passion for cycling, but his passion for excellence and the belief that you can stay local but compete worldwide.”

The foundation is hoping to teach kids beyond just riding bicycles, with things like team building and organization.

“Cycling requires a lot of traits that really make for great citizens as well. Traits like teamwork, dedication, commitment, sacrifice,” said foundation CEO Eric Struckhoff. “And these are traits that I think will help kids no matter what they choose to chase in their lives.”

If you want to learn more about the Steve Tilford Foundation or want information on how to donate, click here.

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