Living on a prayer – By Ivan Cunningham

Oohhh, we’re halfway there. Ride our bikes, we’ll make it I swear… even if we do have multiple 80-plus mile days in a row. We have finished 25 days out of our 50-day trip. Today was fairly uneventful: we encountered a few gentle, rolling hills towards the end, but the ride was flat-ish for the most part. Don Steffa, who rode with us yesterday from Princeville, N.C. to Kinston, N.C., set up our first rest stop for today at his home church, Wilson Christian Church, in Wilson, N.C.

We arrived at Asbury United Methodist Church in Raleigh, N.C., 83 miles from Kinston, a few minutes after 4 p.m. and headed to a neighborhood pool to swim and take showers. Mark Benjamin and Scott Smothers joined us at our last rest stop of the day, in Zebulon, N.C., and rode with us for the last 23 miles. Mark, Scott and James Bernstein, all members of Asbury United Methodist, will be joining us for the next couple of days, and Mark is the one who set up the swimming pool for us (Mark’s wife, Amy, provided some really good cheese/corn-dip for us to munch on while there). Once we were all cleaned up, we headed back to the church where we were provided with a veritable feast and massages! After we were full and much less sore, we gave a presentation and talked to members of the congregation about our mission. Then a few of us went to see a little bit of downtown Raleigh while others prepared for tomorrow. This is a magnificent and comfortable church in which I’m sure none of us will have any trouble sleeping tonight.

When Don Steffa joined us, the night before his ride, we got to talking and he asked me if my nose ring had any significance other than decoration. This was the first time I’d ever been asked that question, and I answered that there was no meaning that I knew of. Since then I’ve been thinking (we have lots of time for that while riding our bikes), and I came up with, I think, a good symbolic meaning for the piercing. Just as a ring is used in a bull’s nose to direct it, even when it doesn’t feel like moving, my ring symbolizes the pull I feel to help other people. Even when I wake up stiff and sore from the previous day’s ride and I feel like I really just don’t want to get back on the bike, or when we’re at mile 70 out of 80-something and it’s 100 degrees or more and my legs don’t want to keep pedaling, I think about why I’m doing this. I think of the call I feel to help my fellow humans. Even though my personal drive isn’t spurred on by a Higher Power, I don’t feel that that lessens it or that it cheapens the actions of those who do feel the same call from their God.

For me, I think the sheer fact that others exist is a good enough reason to care for them. I think of all the insane improbabilities and coincidences that had to occur in order for each individual on this earth to be born. That everybody who has lives beat out incredible odds just to do so makes them beautiful and worthy of love, compassion and respect. As far as I know, this could be our only time around and the only planet we have, and we all have to live on it together; if we don’t take care of our neighbors who aren’t able to make it by themselves, who will?

Help Ivan reach his $5,000 fundraising goal by checking out his personal fundraising page.

Or, join his cause on Facebook.

**Missed the first mail stop? Your next shot is Americus, Ga., where The Fuller Center is headquartered. Send your mail to arrive when we stop through on July 24. 

c/o The Fuller Center for Housing
701 S. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd
Americus, GA 31709

*Flat Tire Count*


Current riders:     
Aaron Alaman – 2
Brett Safran – 8
Chris Cosby – 0
Ivan Cunningham – 0
Kyle Halat – 8
Ryan Iafigliola – 7  
Susan Pratt – 0
Previous Riders:
Abby – 4
Jonny – 0
Leah – 2
Melissa – 3
Nate – Still collecting data
Olivia – 0
Sarah – 2
Tom – 2
Tony – 0


  • I really enjoyed reading this, Ivan. Congratulations on making it halfway, there’s much more adventure and blessings to come. Lots of people everywhere are praying for all of you! I miss being with the team and being able to spend so much time on my bike thinking. It’s definitely a good time for meditation on why you are doing the crazy things you are doing. On a less seroius note, I’m super sad I missed out on some professional massages! All of you certianly deserve that after all the work you’ve been doing! Keep going!

  • Happy Halfway Day everybody! Ivan – thanks for sharing – and belated Happy Birthday: somehow I missed it when it happened. Is the brochure competition still going?


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