Local News

Tuesday, Apr 03 2012 07:18 PM

Father and son accomplish 'Quest to Sac'

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    By Torrie Satterfield / Special to The Californian

    Fifteen year-old Zach Mensch and his father David Mensch, 52, arrive at the capitol building in Sacramento on Tuesday afternoon after a 340 mile ride from Bakersfield. David Mensch, who has cerebral palsey, attempted to break the Guinness Book of World Records mileage covered in a power wheelchair in a 24-hour period. Mensch drove his wheelchair 170 miles in 22 hours from Bakersfield to Madera over the weekend.

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    By Torrie Satterfield / Special to The Californian

    Joyce Mensch greets her son David Mensch, 52, and grandson Zach in Sacramento on Tuesday April 3. The father and son team rode 340 miles from Bakersfield to bring awareness to people with disabilities.

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    By Torrie Satterfield / Special to The Californian

    David Mensch is welcomed to Sacramento on Tuesday.

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BY ANTONIE BOESSENKOOL Californian staff writer aboessenkool@bakersfield.com

David Mensch and his teenage son Zach completed their trek to Sacramento Tuesday after traveling more than 340 miles by bike and wheelchair to the steps of the state Capitol building.

The elder Mensch was born with cerebral palsy, but that didn't stop him from riding his motorized wheelchair from Bakersfield to Sacramento, with Zach biking alongside.

The two started off Friday morning on their "David and Zach's Quest to Sac," in part to bring attention to looming cuts at the state level that could severely impact people with disabilities, and to raise funds for the Kern Assistive Technology Center where David works.

A couple other cyclists and supporters riding in several vehicles accompanied the Mensches on the trip, which was entirely along back roads. A couple of wrong turns extended what was supposed to be a roughly 300-mile trip into more than 340 miles.

Yet David regarded the trip as a success, he said through an interpreter Tuesday night over the phone as he and his supporters celebrated noisily at a restaurant.

The hardest part, David said, was the first day, in which he aimed to break the world record for most miles traveled in a powered wheelchair in 24 hours.

And he did, though it took him from 10 a.m. Friday until 8:44 the following morning, with stops for eating and charging the wheelchair's battery.

David said he'd long been dreaming about breaking the record, 154 miles. He went 170 miles, from Bakersfield to Madera, his hometown, where he and supporters were greeted by city officials with a BBQ.

"The bumps (in the road) were really bad between Bakersfield and Madera," David said. He said he almost fell asleep during the 22-hour initial stretch and even started swerving from exhaustion, but was determined to keep going.

A documentary film crew also came along, and plans to produce a 23-minute film that hopefully will show at Maya Theaters sometime soon, said Susan Lara, who traveled with the group during the last leg from Stockton to Sacramento Tuesday.

David had hoped to meet with Gov. Jerry Brown in Sacramento, but he instead met with the governor's deputy legislative secretary, Lara said. But father and son were greeted with a red carpet.

Lara said she, her husband and son accompanied the Mensches to show their support. Lara said David, an assistive technology specialist, is helping her 13-year-old son, Raymond, learn to use technology to communicate with his eyes.

"David believes in our son Raymond," Lara said. "Because David Mensch is an amazing individual ... there is nothing he can't do, we decided to help him with this quest."

Lara said David had family with him during the first leg of the trip, and they remarked on his determination to break the record during the first leg.

"His drive was amazing -- he just put his head down and said, 'I'm going for it.'"

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