Occupation: clinical pharmacist, Group Health
Degree: BS Pharmacy, University of Washington
Birthplace: San Jose, CA
Residence: Redmond, WA
Stuart O’Brochta remembers the exact day he became addicted: Friday, April 28, 2006. That was the first day Stuart had ever biked to work, preparing for the Group Health Commute Challenge.
This past May, during the Commute Challenge, O’Brochta, a clinical pharmacist at Group Health, led his ten-person team, accumulating 1,140 miles in 21 commute days – almost 50% of his team’s total mileage.
Prior to 2006, O’Brochta had rarely ever ridden a bicycle, not regularly since he was a high school sophomore in California. Today, Stuart rides a “Tommaso with Campy components,” prizes his set of “Rolff wheels,” and maintains a “Kona with skinnies rain bike” in his garage.
Most days, O’Brochta cycles 30 miles from Redmond north around Lake Washington to the Capitol Hill Group Health clinic. When the weather improves May through September, he often takes the more scenic route south around the lake, crossing I-90. “My commute is my exercise,” he states proudly.
Stuart’s commitment to cycling has community ties too. Inspired by his passion, Group Health Executive Vice President Peter Morgan asked Stuart to lead the charge on the organization’s team fundraising efforts for the 2007 Group Health MS Bike Tour. Stuart accepted the challenge, pulling together a team of 108 riders to raise $58,000 – the third place fundraising team and a 100% increase over the 2006 team’s performance.
“Stuart’s passion for this event is remarkable,” said Peter Morgan, executive vice president of Group Health’s Group Practice. “He enthusiastically led our Group Health team of over 100 people, endlessly recruiting participants to ride and setting and exceeding ambitious fundraising goals. He’s an extraordinary example of motivation and dedication translating into action.”
Stuart plays tennis and volunteers as a ski instructor at Stevens Pass, but cycling provides his aerobic workout. “I was tired of gas prices and bus transfers, and I wanted to improve my fitness level.” Initially his wife and three teenage kids thought he was crazy, but now the family thinks he’s cool for sticking with the regimen.
Group Health provides shower and locker facilities, and Stuart has a wardrobe with many outfits in his office.
Leona McQueen, Customer Service Operations Manager of the Employee Transportation program, says “Interest in bike commuting is growing, and I think it is a direct result of the committed support provided by Group Health leadership.”
Today, O’Brochta speaks about the biking infrastructure like other long-time transportation advocates. “Connectivity between trail systems is still an issue. In Redmond, the north-south route along the Slough works well, but Northrup way feels dangerous in the dark.”
A Cascade member since his participation in the ’06 Challenge, Stuart also joined the ranks of Group Health Seattle To Portland alumni this season – completing the double century in less than 11 hours.
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