Background (By Ryan Iafigliola, Trip Leader 2008, 2009 and 2010; Trip Founder)
Two years ago I was pulling together the Niagara Falls to New Orleans Bicycle Adventure at a time when we were also working hard on a Haiti response and working to double the size of our Global Builders program. The Bike Adventure, so full of potential, was yet poised to suffer if more help was not found.
In strode Allen Slabaugh, taking the Bike Adventure that had been my baby and helping to raise it as his own. Two years later, under his steady gaze and attention, the event has grown and matured to a new level. Leaving us with so many good memories, now it is his turn to move on as he talks about in his message below. We pulled together a complete scientific review of Allen’s leadership in this video.
We do not despair, because as always with our ride, God has provided! Melissa Merrill, an outstanding 3-time Fuller Center rider who has also volunteered with us around the world has stepped up to dedicate her next year to making the ride a reality! She will be our first female Trip Leader, and we could not be prouder. Meet Melissa by watching this video we made of Melissa back in 2010.
As for me, I’ll keep guiding the event’s big picture and will be here to help Melissa learn the ropes. 2013 will be a big year for the Bike Adventure!
Final thoughts from Allen Slabaugh, Trip Leader 2011 and 2012
Americus, GA and the Fuller Center for Housing have been great to me over the past two years, which is why my decision to leave was a tough one. When first deciding to take over the bike trip I was pretty nervous about doing so. It wasn’t the physical part that I was worried about but more of the organizing, leading, and especially the speaking part, as all who know me know that I’m a man of few words. But taking this leap of faith has truly allowed me to see how God always provides and that you just need to learn to let go and let him take over.
Leading these trips has been an amazing experience and one that I will definitely miss. I’ve been blessed to have the chance to ride thousands of miles across this great country and have had the opportunity to meet some truly amazing people along the way. The people are what make these trips such a remarkable experience. These people we meet along the way allow us, complete strangers, to come and use their facilities as well as provide meals, showers, and whatever else we may need. This aspect of community and what is mine is yours, is just something that I’ve really enjoyed and has definitely changed me. Also, the riders who sign up for these trips are incredible people who I’m glad I’ve gotten the chance to get to know and by the end of the rides you really do feel like they are family.
I’m definitely going to miss the long days on the bike, the comradery between the group, stopping to work on homes, the large amounts of peanut butter consumed and most of all getting the chance to watch God work in the lives of so many people and the impact these people are having on the world around them. I’m looking forward to seeing this ride continue to grow and I’m excited to have Melissa taking over my role, as I know she will do a fantastic job. The Fuller Center is an organization that is doing remarkable things all across the globe and I definitely plan to continue to stay involved with their work wherever I may end up.
Melissa Merrill – Ready to start! (2013 Trip Leader)
When you spend most of your day on a bike it’s easy to find time to think, which made my first Fuller Center Bicycle Adventure in 2009 a time for plenty of reflection. However, even during all those miles of thinking between Michigan and the gulf coast of Florida, I didn’t foresee that almost four years later I’d be on my way to Americus, Georgia to follow in the footsteps (or should I say pedal strokes!) of our amazing leader, Allen!
I’ve got some big shoes to fill but I’m extremely grateful to have this new opportunity to serve and I’m certainly up for the challenge! With a little support from both Allen and Ryan, I’m confident that this will be another incredible and life-changing adventure. I can’t wait to raise more money and reach more people with the Fuller Center’s message while we see this beautiful country (and even a little bit of Canada!) from our unique, two-wheeled perspective. I hope you’ll join me!