The Fuller Center Bicycle Adventure, which began June 6 in Atlantic City, New Jersey, came to an end today as cyclists ran out of road in Astoria Oregon, on the Pacific Coast — 3,600 miles from their starting point on the Atlantic Coast.
Fuller Center for Housing President David Snell offered his congratulations to the riders and leaders today for their tremendous success in spreading awareness of The Fuller Center’s mission and raising funds to repair existing homes and to build simple, decent houses around the world.
“Sixty-seven riders, 3,600 miles, nine weeks on the road — what an adventure!” Snell said. “It’s hard to find the words to thank these kids — young and old — for their sacrifice. What makes it a little easier is that they certainly seemed to have a good time doing it.
“Another summer ride comes to an end with a whole lot of new friends and memories made,” he added. “Thanks to the Adventurers! You helped get the word out about what The Fuller Center is doing all across the country, and you helped get some Fuller Center houses built along the way. I hope — and feel certain — you were blessed by the experience. I know that we were.”
During this year’s seventh annual summer Bicycle Adventure, the ride surpassed the $1 million all-time fundraising mark. Next year’s summer ride will be the longest yet — 4,000 miles from southern California to Maine. (Click here to view the 2015 summer ride announcement.)
Snell said that, like many people, he was inspired by the words of the riders themselves, who took turns blogging about their journey over the past nine weeks. Here’s a sampling of some of the riders’ thoughts along the way, in their own words:
Scottie Duclos (Washington): Not only do we get to see these amazing new places, but we get to do them with a family culture that we create with all of the riders, and we get to do it from the seat of a bike. No sitting in a car, music drowning out nature, air conditioning keeping you comfortable, engines making the terrain seem boring. Just you, a few other bikers struggling together, the swirl of chains hissing in unison, the smell of flowers, rain, cows, corn, the sounds of horses galloping, dogs barking, wheat rustling, the struggle of every headwind, the beauty of every tailwind, the refreshment of rain, the beauty of every sunset, all of it singing together, glorifying God who holds it all together. Who holds us all together.
Gerry McCusker (Australia): One thing’s more than alive, and that’s the spirit of Christian America. It really lives in the people closest to me today — my pedaling, peloton pals, our support crews and the local parishioners who open doors, pull pork, pour juices, provide shelter and flip pre-dawn pancakes to help fuel our mission. All for free. Often for fun.
Leah Spurlin (Kentucky): From spackling walls in Atlantic City, to moving boxes and picking up trash on a Kensington, PA block, to laying laminate and cleaning out a hoarder’s basement in Aurora, OH, to painting the entire interior of the Jones’s home in Toledo, OH, to starting the Blitz Build by cleaning overgrowth in Gary, IN on Jackson Street, to scrubbing mold off a basement wall in Waukegan, IL, to pulling weeds, painting a veteran’s home, and a pick-up baseball game in Porcupine, SD, to stripping and tediously tearing off shingles by shovel and hammer while roped in off a roof in Kellogg, ID, to mopping floors, sorting through eggs, and pulling weeds at a food kitchen in Clarkston, WA … these are some of the memories that will remain forever. The conversations with the homeowners, the joy and tears shed from Katherine Jackson and Roy and Dolores Jones, the “heroes” in North Chicago, and the high fives and smiles from the boys at the Indian Reservation. These days have shaped my heart and deepened my understanding of what being a true servant really means.
Diane Bies (Indiana): I have ridden 2 spring rides, this summer I rode week 4, went home for 3 weeks, and now am riding the last 2 weeks to the coast. Each time I join the Fuller Center Bike Adventure I am amazed at the warmth and comfort that is the life of this group. We all come from so many different areas and experiences and yet we work together both on and off the bikes. God is so alive here with us in every moment!
Susan Pratt (California): The smiles we bring on homeowners’ faces when we lend a helping hand, the love we receive at each of the host churches and the passion that emanates from our hearts within are rewards that are too great to turn down. It is a simple life during which priorities become evident and the goodness of humanity fills my day from the time I wake up (5 a.m.) to the time I lay myself to sleep (10 pm).
Joe Ergle (Florida): It’s astounding how a group of people from all over this crazy planet, each with their own idiosyncrasies, ideas, passions, and ways of communicating, can come together and form a cohesive family of workers on the road. I love every person I’ve met on this trip; you all are a new family that I will remember forever and forever. Thanks to all who have put their hearts into this initiation and especially to those who help keep coals on the fire.
Mark Major (Florida): Problems shared are divided, joy shared is multiplied, and in both cases the miracle occurs. … Being selfish in nature I have only discovered these principles late in life, despite the offers of others to share the most basic teachings of Christianity all along. It only came to me through my personal desire to fulfill my dream to ride my bicycle across this country last year. On my circuitous route I accidentally became immersed in serving humanity via the Fuller Center for Housing, and self-seeking no longer serves me. My purpose in life is to have the life of purpose I have found in service. Even in that I feel selfish, for I can never repay all that I have received from this, but then have even more to give. For me, that is a miracle.
Dani Schenk (North Carolina): This ride restores your faith in people. Every night a new church opens up their doors to a group of thirty smelly strangers, they cook us dinner, listen to our stories, and show us time and time again that there are still kind and generous people in this world. The covenant partners we meet are doing their part to change their communities and it is inspiring. And the riders, different in many ways, are all strong and beautiful people who I am so thankful I have met!
Mihai Posteuca (Oregon): This is going to be an adventure that will stay with me for the rest of my life, and hopefully will be an inspiration for others in my circle, and in my family, to do the same and learn how to “live simple so others may simply live.”
Lydia Huelskamp (Missouri): So far I have been tested physically, mentally, and spiritually. I have muscles screaming at me that I never even knew existed. I have my mind battling between “Stop pedaling, you aren’t going to make it, look how huge that hill is,” and “I feel good danuhnanananana I knew that I would … can’t touch this.” And I have had many talks with God and about God while on the bike seat. It has been a testing, but wonderfully fulfilling four weeks.
Lindsey Bawcom (Tennessee): I have to admit that at the beginning of the week I was questioning myself about what I had signed up for and if I could even complete another day. It was hard, I probably should’ve trained better, and I was unsure of where I ‘fit in.’ As I rode into the church parking lot today with another Fuller Center Bicycle Adventurist, all I could do was smile and laugh to the point that tears were streaming down my cheeks. The feeling of accomplishment, the friends and memories I’ve made, and the humbling satisfaction of knowing that what we’re doing is making a difference in someone’s life is absolutely amazing and truly rewarding. This has been such a wonderful experience.
Lauryn Kostopoulos (Connecticut): I have learned so much about others and about myself so far. It’s amazing to see how little people have, but how much hope and love they have in their hearts. It doesn’t matter what they may or may not have, they have faith in God that in the end everything is going to work out. I have also learned that there is still a bunch of good people left in the world. This has also been an eye opening experience on the build days. Many times the homes that we are working on are in poverty areas and the people living in the homes may not have the means, skill, or strength to complete the projects needed to do to the house. We have done stuff from extreme gardening, to painting, to cleaning out hoarders’ basements. At the end of the day these people are so grateful and appreciative of the services we have done for the day. I know that I can’t help everyone, but those that we have the opportunity to help makes all the difference. We are able to go into their homes in the morning and by the end of the day we have given them a sense of hope again and the chance to be comfortable in their home again.
Tom Weber (Colorado): I have evolved from a cynical old man sitting at home, signing up for a bike ride across America, and finding out that it was God’s plan all along to put me on my first ride so I could grow in my faith. Once I found out firsthand what the Fuller Center is all about, namely helping people with a hand up to affordable housing, it was no longer about a bike ride, but it was about me doing God’s work, and growing in my faith. A truly beautiful experience! I am blessed to have found this calling.