One of the questions we get asked most often by readers is, How do I get on the cover of U.S. 1? The tongue-in-cheek answer favored by our boss is, Be careful what you wish for. But the truth is our cover stories evolve from a combination of serendipity, sleuthing, and simple good timing.

This week’s cover story was originally intended as a story for our Preview section and is a good illustration of how smaller stories sometimes morph into larger stories. In July Preview editor Jamie Saxon — who will use any excuse to put on a party dress — attended the annual Bastille Day Ball for the “U.S. 1 Crashes a Party” column. Seated at her table was Bob Dunn, a financial planner with Private Wealth Management Group, a financial advisory firm in Princeton.

Dunn mentioned that he was in training for a 100-mile bike ride, Battle Against Hunger, which was taking place the weekend of September 10. Saxon was impressed not only with Dunn’s dedication to the intensive training such a ride requires on top of a full-time job, but also with his ability to balance his work life and home life so adeptly in order to help those less fortunate. Light bulb: this is a story.

Saxon made plans to profile Dunn and Battle Against Hunger organizer Chuck Inman, director of the Museum of Modern Art’s distribution center in South Brunswick, in the Preview section for this issue. But a few weeks ago, we realized we had a hole on the editorial board for a September 1 cover story. Saxon suggested we expand the Battle Against Hunger story and turn it into a cover story about how working professionals like Dunn integrate this kind of undertaking into their busy working lives — and where their commitment comes from.

What oiled the wheel of this situation was Inman’s excellent organizational skills and ready willingness to give us the information we needed to meet our deadlines. For example, in addition to Dunn we wanted our writer, Anne Levin, to interview a female rider: Inman quickly gave us contact information for Cathy Johnson, who works full-time as an administrator for Snowdon Inc., a pharma start-up on Deer Park Drive.

We also wanted the contact info for every rider who lives and works fulltime in the greater Princeton area. Inman immediately had his colleague, Bob Blackmar, E-mail us the list. We in turn E-mailed everyone on the list and asked them for their job title and company name. Every single person E-mailed us back in a timely fashion.

When we asked for photos of last year’s ride, Blackmar sent us dozens, carefully labeled with IDs. Johnson, whose photo was not included in Blackmar’s group, graciously offered to provide us with a photo of her on her bike.

We love these people. At any point along the way, this story could have been an organizational nightmare, particularly because it was developing at the height of vacation season when people who work are notoriously impossible to reach. But everything came off without a hitch. Even our boss, who doesn’t typically admit to warm and fuzzy feelings, was duly impressed with the Battle Against Hunger riders, and took his tongue out of his cheek to write the story headline: Prerequisite for This 100-Mile Ride: A Lot of Heart.

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