(Photo: Bicycle Adventure leader Neil Mullikin with the Adventure’s new 2023 Chevrolet Express van)
Cyclists, supporters raise funds to buy badly needed support van for Bicycle Adventure
More than 1,800 cyclists have cumulatively pedaled more than 1.7 million miles since the very first Fuller Center Bicycle Adventure back in 2008. Each time an Adventurer hops on a bike, they raise funds and awareness for The Fuller Center’s affordable housing ministry — more than $4.6 million to date.
Simply put, the more these cyclists ride with us, the more The Fuller Center can build in partnership with families in need of simple, decent places to live. The ministry gets stronger with each community reached and each mile pedaled. The cyclists themselves are energized and fueled by each successful segment.
The same can’t be said for the support vehicles that have been required to accompany the journeys — specifically the vans and trailers that have criss-crossed the country through some of its most stunning areas. With each odometer mile, these vehicles get farther from their prime and closer to their retirement.
To that effect, the vans of the Bicycle Adventure have signaled — often in some inopportune times — that they are longing to be put out to pasture, and they submitted that notice in 2023, especially the 2012 Ford E-350 van that has more than 170,000 miles on the odometer with maintenance costs topping $5,000 a year.
While questions ranged from “What’s that rattling?” to “A transmission is how much?!,” cyclists who have grown to love the home-building mission of The Fuller Center and the Adventure as a means to fulfill it were asking a different question:
“What can we do to help?”
A movement began to help fund a new van for the Adventures, and riders and supporters eagerly responded, raising more than $54,000 to date. However, with only two 2023 Chevrolet Express 15-passenger vans — the one that fills the most needs in terms of towing capacity and seating — on the market, the Adventure had to act quickly. The new van comes from Mesa, Ariz., and final costs are expected to be about $60,000 total.
“The goal of the Fuller Center Bicycle Adventure was always to have 100 percent of the money raised go toward building decent, affordable housing,” said Jim Hartman, one of the Adventurers who contributed to the effort. “Without a new van, the FCBA would not be able to function the way it needs to. Funding the van without using Fuller Center funds was a way to achieve the goal of funding the rides without using donations.”
“Every dollar raised by a cyclist is given by someone who wants to help eliminate poverty housing,” echoed contributor Jennifer Medgull. “But it takes a lot behind the scenes to put those dollars to work. As a Bike Adventure support team member, I’ve seen what it takes to make the cycling trips possible. In a similar way, I’m sure it takes a lot to put to work those dollars intended for housing.”
Bicycle Adventure founder Ryan Iafigliola, now The Fuller Center’s Vice President of International Programs, knew from the beginning that it would take a lot of buy-in from participants for the event to become an annual tradition and a success, which it most definite has become.
“Our ride events really emphasize taking care of each other during the journeys, and this new van purchase is really that same theme taken to a new level,” he said. “Our riders generously supported this badly needed but non-glamorous purchase to ensure that riders will have support along the way when they need it for years to come. It’s another way they’re taking care of each other! And it lets us keep the donor dollars going where we want it — to the mission. Over 98 percent of Bike Adventure gifts all-time have gone to the Fuller Center rather than the direct expenses of the rides.”
Medgull has witnessed that up close on rides and build sites.
“I think The Fuller Center is an excellent steward of financial resources, and I know the cycling teams are good stewards of the support gear they have,” she said. “It just makes sense to do what I can to make it all come together for future rides which will lead to future housing.”
As for current Bicycle Adventure coordinator Neil Mullikin, he will be a little sad to see the old van go — well, just a little bit anyway.
“In some ways I will miss our old van,” Mullikin said. “Because of its random issues, it has allowed us to see God working in both the timing of the breakdowns, and generosity of people during repairs. Yet, there is tremendous peace in knowing we now have a reliable van. As a trip leader, there is stress and worry about how to get 15 people and a trailer from point A to B without a van. The statement, ‘Don’t worry, we have our bikes,’ is not always amusing when we have to travel hundreds of miles to get to our destination.
“It’s remarkable that our riders came together with such a generous gift, and I thank each and everyone for their determination to make this happen.”
Thank you to our donors so far:
James and Patricia Hartman (in memory of Bill & Ann Burnett)
Gabriel Giving Fund
The National Christian Foundation
Gary W. Schroeder
Jessica L. Cattell
Mark and Sandi Remson
John and Alice Little Caldwell
Scott & Leeann White
Mark and Nancy Shue
William and Carol Sykes
Anthony J. and Mary Campbell
Cindy & Dan Hepp
John and Ruth Ann Hamilton
Ohio Reunion Ride