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Community Champion

April 13, 2007—Springtime can’t come soon enough for Bill Orr ’91. A sales compensation programmer for Thermo Fisher Scientific, Orr is organizer of his company’s cycling team.


Bill Orr

Bill Orr

The cyclists participate in all Pittsburgh charity cycling events to raise funds for charities, including the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, the American Diabetes Association, and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (CFF). The rides are not races but rather leisure cycling events in which riders choose a predetermined course and ride at their own pace. Orr came up with the idea for an additional event for CFF—the 65 Roses Ride, now entering its fifth year.

A runner and cyclist who competes in duathlons (run-bike-run), Orr, thirty-eight, is a nationally ranked age-group athlete. He is vice president of the Montour Trail Council and chair of the Montour Trail sponsorship committee, bringing in sponsors for events such as Tour the Montour, the Ikea Montour Trail Half Marathon 5K Run and 5K Walk, the latter of which averages about a thousand participants.

Orr was recognized as a 2005 Community Champion and was nominated for a Jefferson Award, established by the American Institute for Public Service to recognize those who perform remarkable deeds in community service without expectation of reward or recognition.

“Cycling is very rewarding to me,” said Orr. “Last year I worked with someone at the CF Foundation who actually had cystic fibrosis. It was a lot of motivation for what I was doing, because I could see how much she appreciated the time I put in to benefit her and others who had the disease.”

A native of Blairsville, Pa., Orr graduated from IUP with a degree in accounting. He moved to Pittsburgh in 1993 and started working for Mellon Bank, then worked at the Civic Arena for a couple of years, moved to AT&T Wireless, and finally to Thermo Fisher Scientific in 2000 doing programming work for the sales compensation system.

A runner since his high school days, Orr started learning about the rails to trails in the area when he moved to Pittsburgh. “I bought a bike, and when I joined Fisher I heard about the corporate cycling team. It sounded like a lot of fun, so I went ahead and joined,” said Orr.

The company pays for the employees to participate in the event, covering the registration fee and the fundraising minimum, if any. After his first year, Orr was asked to step in as team organizer. He started meeting the other charity cycling directors in the area and began bouncing ideas back and forth with the director of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, as Fisher was the title sponsor of their Pedal ’N Party event. The outcome was a new event, the 65 Roses Ride, of which Fisher also is title sponsor. (“65 Roses” is what some children with cystic fibrosis call their disease because the words are much easier for them to pronounce.)

Most of the cycling events take place on the road, with the exception of the Montour Trail ride, which is all on the trail. “Generally, you have to be comfortable with dealing with traffic,” said Orr. “The courses have designated lengths. You choose a course and however many miles you want to do and pretty much ride at your own leisure.”

Pittsburgh-area charity cycling events start up sometime each May. The 65 Roses Ride takes place on the first Sunday in June, the Pedal ’N Party ride is the first Sunday in August, and the Ikea Montour Trail Half Marathon is in early September.

The Montour Trail is about forty miles long and will be close to forty-seven miles when complete. “The trail is such an asset to this area, and it’s a big benefit to a lot of people to have something like this they can go to, whether to walk or bike or just get away,” said Orr. “It’s a real quality of life for this area. I enjoy giving to that because I’m a user too. It’s nice to kind of give back.”

Bill Orr can be contacted at  william.orr@thermofisher.com .