Former professional cyclist Steven Cozza has spent much of his life standing up for other people.
When he was a kid growing up in Petaluma, he protested discrimination against gays by the Boy Scouts of America. As a high-profile cyclist, he raised money for disabled kids, among others.
And now, as he launches a new career as a real estate agent, Cozza is behind a one-man food drive to supply the Mary Isaak Center.
He's also organizing a May 11 cycling event — the Petaluma Kids Gran Fondo — to raise money for public schools.
"Muhammad Ali says helping others is the rent we pay to be on this earth," said Cozza, a huge fan of the heavyweight champion. "I really take that to heart."
The 2003 Petaluma High School graduate was a charitable force during his decade-long cycling career, which ended last spring when he was sidelined with colitis.
As a member of the top-ranked Garmin team, Cozza competed in the Paris-Roubaix three years running. At the same time, he organized Steven Cozza's Race For Kids, a fundraiser for at-risk children.
Now back in his hometown, Cozza has earned a real estate license and has signed on with Frank Howard Allen.
With a teacher mother and social worker father, it's no surprise that Cozza is driven to help people. In years past, he's been recognized by co-workers and elected officials alike.
Former Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey, a Petaluma Democrat, once told him he should run for president. He was about 11 years old then, he said.