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Jim Cummings, charity bike ride founder and school sports booster, dies

Jim Cummings of East Islip.

Jim Cummings of East Islip. Credit: Handout

Jim Cummings loved many things. He loved his family, his friends and the East Islip community, of which he was part for the last 16 years. Cummings also loved to ride his bicycle, taking it around the neighborhood multiple times a week. So, when the chance arose for him to use that bicycle to give back to someone in need, he pedaled into action.

Cummings founded The Bike to The End, a charity that uses an 80-mile bike ride from Islip to Montauk to raise money for community members in need of assistance, in 2003 after his neighbor Victoria Sidorski was diagnosed with brain cancer.

Last year, the ride he began to help others was held to help Cummings, who himself was diagnosed with brain cancer in November 2012. Never one to miss a big ride, Cummings rode right alongside. He died Sunday at his home in East Islip. He was 51.

"He was very positive," said Rose Cummings, his wife of 26 years. "You'd never know he was sick unless somebody told you. He was always positive, even through everything he went through."

Positivity and selflessness defined Cummings' life. The 1981 Oceanside High School graduate coached youth football and lacrosse, refereed boys lacrosse games and was a past president of the East Islip High School athletics booster club.

"He was the face of somebody helping out all the time," Rose said.

And others noticed.

"He was a people person," said East Islip High School wrestling coach Guy Leggio, 52. "Not only did he worry about wrestling, he worried about every sport in the school. Every sport benefited from his hard work."

In 2006, after the East Islip school budget was voted down, Cummings helped the booster club raise enough money to save sports at the high school, current booster club president Bob Sendel said.

After sports were saved, community involvement in the organization dipped dramatically. This hardly discouraged Cummings, who took over as booster club president and worked hard to reinvigorate the club and continue its fundraising efforts, Sendel said.

"He was tenacious," said Sendel, 56, of Islip Terrace. "He never gave up. He put in a lot of hours. After everyone disappeared, there was just the core group of us. We did everything we had to do and he was always there. He was able to engage the right people and get them back on board."

After a funeral Mass at St. Mary Church in East Islip, Cummings was buried at St. Charles Cemetery in East Farmingdale on Thursday. He is survived by his wife; his children, Jim, Shawn, Shannon and Keera; his parents, Ed and Mary; and six brothers and sisters, Ed, Cathy Gerardi, Mike, Theresa Fitzpatrick, Chris and Judy Rhoades.

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