We Chatted to Brad Cooper to find out more about his film Godspeed – The Race Across America, find our more below.
Presented by Fathom Events and The Rudy Project, “GODSPEED – The Race Across America,” chronicles the harrowing journey of ultra-cyclist/sportscaster Jerry Schemmel, who joins forces with an IronMan triathlete/CEO, Brad Cooper, in the world’s most grueling endurance bicycle race – The Race Across America (RAAM). The inspiring documentary of faith and determination comes to U.S. cinemas for one special night on Tuesday, May 22, at 7:00 p.m. local time. Tickets can be purchased online by visiting www.FathomEvents.com or at participating theater box offices. For more information, visit www.godspeedcycling.com.
Tell us a bit about yourself and how you became a Christian.
BRAD: I’m a 52-year-old husband to one incredible woman (26 years of marriage) and dad to three great kids (ages 23, 21 and 19). I came to Christ at a young age (5 yrs. old), shortly after my parents became believers as a result of a Navigators Bible Study in their neighborhood. I’m the CEO of US Corporate Wellness, a national employee wellness provider, and Co-founder of the Catalyst Coaching Institute, which provides the training for those who want to become a Certified Wellness Coach for their own career. I’ve recently traded in the time devoted to endurance training to focus on a PhD. Still enjoy working out, but not devoting the extensive hours I was until the PhD is wrapped up.
What inspired you to take part in this race?
BRAD: It was Jerry Schemmel’s idea. We knew each other (barely) through the church we both attended. Jerry always wanted to do this race and thought I might make a decent partner. It seemed like a crazy idea when he asked, but we talked about it as a family, prayed about the opportunity, and then decided to give it a go!
How did you prepare for the race?
BRAD: My background included multiple (11) Ironman races, so I was used to the endurance training and essentially traded the swim/run time for more cycling time. Six weeks prior to the race, I was involved in a bike wreck that resulted in eight fractures to the ribs, pelvis and clavicle, along with a concussion. Fortunately (VERY fortunately), no spinal or severe head injury. The doctors huddled up and decided to allow me to continue training after surgery, but the last six weeks was all done on an indoor trainer in my basement for safety reasons (they felt another wreck would have been disastrous).
What was the most difficult part of the race?
BRAD: Each day had its “most difficult part” – and each day’s “most difficult” seemed to be more difficult than the previous day’s “most difficult.” The body’s physiological limits were generally tapped out after the first couple of days, so then the focus becomes mental. Incredible support from our absolutely amazing crew, and the leadership of our Crew Chief Clay Pahlau, made SUCH a difference. We could not have done it without them!
How did you overcome the challenges?
BRAD: What’s the old saying? “Challenges are what you see when you take your eye off the goal?” We were focused on the goal of getting to that finish line and honoring Him through it all. As noted above, our crew played an incredible roll. Jerry and I also seemed to be able to sense when the other person needed help, as he would volunteer to ride further when I seemed to be in a slump, and I’d do the same for him. In the end, the race was very much like life – we’re going to hit challenges continually, but if we keep looking up and looking forward, we’ll get there!
How did you see God use the race?
BRAD: Multiple answer to this. First, was the opportunity to raise $55,000 to help fund an organization supporting orphans in Haiti. There is SUCH a need there. Second, was the development of the GodspeedCycling film – we had no idea it would take off like this and it has such an opportunity to influence lives for the better in so many ways. On a personal level, it provided an opportunity for our family to create a lifelong memory (our three kids were all significant members of the crew) and it also opened the door to a new journey in pursuing the PhD. We never know exactly how God is going to connect the dots, but if we’re not open to the “dots” He makes available, then the number of meaningful dots available remains limited. I’m looking forward to how He continues to connect these crazy dots for years to come!
Tell us more about Building Hope International.
BRAD: The founder of BHI was in a Bible study with Jerry, which is how the connection originally took place. Their website has extensive details at BHInow.org
How can people support this project?
BRAD: Probably the biggest thing right now is to fill the theaters on May 22. Skeptics say there isn’t a place for faith-based films but we think this is exactly the format that can impact lives both short and long term for the Kingdom. If we are able to get the news out about this film in time, then two things will happen: 1 – more people will see/experience the role of faith in every aspect of our lives, and 2 – filmmakers will continue to develop more faith-focused options for us to go see (which then circles back to #1!)
What do you hope people will come away with from watching this film?
BRAD: We hope it acts as a catalyst for taking a positive step forward in their own life with their faith, family, or a pursuit to which God has been calling them to recently. While the film (obviously) takes place in a cycling race, it’s really not about cycling so much as it’s about life, challenges, teamwork, and moving outside of your comfort zone based on a higher calling. Regardless of whether a person is a serious cyclist or hasn’t been on a bike in 20 years, they’re likely to see their own life developing before their eyes on screen on May 22.