For Ron and Ann Allan, Cuyahoga Valley National Park was the place where their biking adventures began. From their first adventures on the Towpath to biking trips around the globe, the pair explored countless landscapes from the seats of their bicycles.
“Biking became our way to see the world,” says Ann. “If we hadn’t started biking in Cuyahoga Valley, that kind of exploring would never have occurred to us.”
Ron regularly said that biking in CVNP was the one thing they both loved to do—and it was only 15 minutes from their porch. Their first bike trips typically began from the Ira Trailhead, where Ann would ride the Towpath Trail up to Peninsula, while Ron took the roads. After lunch together at Fisher’s Café, they’d head back, enjoying the scenery of the valley.
“I remember when we’d see the birds nesting in the springtime,” recalls Ann. “We would have to stop for at least 20 minutes to watch them!”
As their biking abilities and confidence grew, they started traveling farther afield, eventually taking many international biking trips to see the world—from Europe to the Baja Peninsula.
Amid their world travels, the Allans always returned home to Akron, Ohio and the Cuyahoga Valley. As their children and grandchildren grew up, they continued visiting the park for bike rides, picnics, and adventures to the Beaver Marsh and Blue Hen Falls.
In 2015, Ron and Ann joined the Conservancy on a trip to Golden Gate National Recreational Area, even welcoming the group into their California home for an evening. Their connection to the Conservancy continued to grow over the years, deepening as they realized how their support of the nonprofit friends group could make a difference for the park they loved so much.
Then, late in 2017, their strong connection to the Cuyahoga Valley drove Ron and Ann to make a remarkably generous donation to the Conservancy. In celebration of Ron’s 80th birthday, the Allans gave $1 million to establish two funds for the Conservancy: a Conservancy reserve fund, and another fund to underwrite capacity building and entrepreneurial initiatives, as well as a $180,000 gift for the new CVNP visitor center.
This gift is a game-changer for the Conservancy, allowing the organization to truly step into its role as a mature, stable nonprofit friends group to Cuyahoga Valley National Park. With this type of funding, the Conservancy can try new things, take entrepreneurial risks, recruit new voices, and explore creative ideas that will further the mission and goals of the organization and the park. This type of forward thinking is essential to maintaining the relevancy of national parks in the future.
Ann has a few ideas about how the park will change going forward, too. “More people are turning to parks—for health, for the beauty of the landscapes,” she says. “Cuyahoga Valley is becoming a real destination park, and I expect we’ll continue to see more out-of-state visitors moving forward.”
The Allan’s gift will help the Conservancy better support the park as it welcomes these visitors with unique, creative programming, educational opportunities, entrepreneurial initiatives, and more.
The impact of the Allan’s gift to the Conservancy can’t be overstated, and we are tremendously grateful for their generosity. Sadly, Ron passed away not long after the Allans made this extraordinary donation, and Ann has since moved to California to be near family. In their wake, though, they leave a lasting legacy for the place that shaped their lives so dramatically.
“Cuyahoga Valley National Park means a lot to us—in a lot of different ways,” says Ann. “We knew we wanted to make a difference for this place that is so special to us and our family.”
Ron and Ann Allan are a wonderful example of the extraordinary people who roam Cuyahoga Valley National Park, and who have a beautiful story to tell. This is part of a new series we are bringing to life within the next few months called Humans of CVNP, where we provide a glimpse into the lives of people who love our national park. If you have a story you would like to tell, or know someone who does, please email Zaina Salem at firstname.lastname@example.org