AMSTERDAM, N.Y. (NEWS10) — A cross-country bike trip is more than a bucket list item for two men with ties to the Capital Region. They’re raising awareness for two causes close to their hearts, as they near the end of their ride from California to Massachusetts.

John David Norton and Tom Taylor have seen many new cities and landmarks along their cross-country trip. But Monday, they were in familiar territory as they pedaled through Amsterdam.

“I’ve been away for almost 50 years,” Norton said, “but Upstate New York never leaves the heart.”

The pair grew up in Granville together, on the same football and wrestling team, but lost touch after their teenage years.

“In the ’70s we reconnected, when we were back in the ‘hippie era,'” Taylor recalled, “we hitchhiked across the country together. Now, we’re kind of re-enacting that on bicycles in a way, I guess.”

Now, Norton lives in Colorado and Taylor in California. They’d been apart for 40 years, and reconnected for a different kind of journey: A bike tour that started off back in April in Santa Monica. They’re both raising awareness for beloved family members. 

Norton is pedaling for his 8-year-old grandson, Broderick, who is in need of a kidney. Tom is biking for his wife, Thoko, who died almost two years ago from an autoimmune disease called sarcoidosis.

“She was a wonderful, beautiful woman who I miss very much, and I’m pretty sure she’d be happy with what we’re doing,” Taylor said.

Along the way, the friends have gotten to know each other better, met people affected by sarcoidosis, and seen beautiful parts of the country. NEWS10’s sister station in Wichita, Kansas captured part of their trip through the Midwest.

“It hasn’t always been pleasure,” Norton said. “There’s been flat tires, mechanical problems, but we’ve taken them all on.”

The memory of Taylor’s wife and motivation to find a kidney for Norton’s grandson are keeping them going. With over $10k raised so far for sarcoidosis research, 3400 miles behind them and only about 200 to go, they’re planning their route for their final stop: Boston.

They dipped their rear tires in the Pacific Ocean when departing from the West Coast, and plan to dip their front tires in the Atlantic when they get to Massachusetts and complete the journey.

“And then from there, who knows,” Norton said. “The next challenge is out there someplace. The next adventure is awaiting.”

You can continue to follow Norton and Taylor’s journey and make a donation to their cause. Taylor often shares photos from their travels on social media.