Cross Country Bishop’s Bike Ride Raises Awareness about Malaria
The Rt. Rev. Mark Hollingsworth, Bishop of the Diocese of Ohio, and seven dedicated cyclists set off on a mission to utilize their passion for cycling as a tool to achieve three goals− raise money for Episcopal Relief & Development’s program partnership, NetsforLife®, raise awareness of the Episcopal Church’s ministry and add new contributors to Episcopal Relief & Development.
In 2006, Bishop Hollingsworth, organized the first Bishop’s Bike Ride − a 245-mile ride home to Cleveland from the General Convention in Columbus, Ohio. This year, he set his goal higher and organized the 12-day cross country trip to fight malaria which began at the close of the Episcopal Church’s 76th General Convention on July 17 in Anaheim, California.
On Tuesday, July 28th, they reached the Episcopal Church Center in New York City after crossing through thirteen states. The team was welcomed outside by a cheerful crowd of colleagues and family.
“You have raised and roused awareness for Episcopal Relief and Development and NetsforLife®,” said Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori during the reception at the Catalyst Café and Books at the Church Center. “Thank you, thank you, thank you.” She also gracefully offered prayers of Thanksgiving for their safe travels and for the ability to serve in so many different ways so that others may be encouraged and enlightened to participate in service.
The cyclists shared countless stories of their adventures speeding across the country on their ride to end malaria. They faced some obstacles− from unbearable heat in the west to rain and thunder in the east to a minor car accident in Pennsylvania, luckily there were no injuries. In spite of these challenges, they remained grateful. They are thankful for the endless love and support they received from the strangers on the road, Episcopalians who opened their homes and the dioceses who fed them along the way.
* All photos courtesy of Erin Kirby.
Bishop Hollingsworth and the seven fellow cyclists completed the ambitious journey alternating riding as they passed through Episcopal dioceses. The team included: the Rev. Kelly O’Connell, rector of St. Mark’s, Toledo, and route planner; the Rev. Stephen Sedgwick, rector of the Church of the Redeemer, Lorain; the Rev. Daniel Orr, priest-in-charge of St. Paul’s, Fremont; Carl Petterson, from Christ Church, Hudson, and recent high school graduate; Michael Obel-Omia, former head of the Upper School of the University School in Cleveland and parishioner at St. Paul’s, Cleveland Heights; Isaac Hollingsworth, the bishop’s son and high school sophomore at St. Paul’s School in Concord, New Hampshire and Greg Daniels, an IBM consultant from Christ Church, Hudson said who wrote on his recent blog, “I am very glad to have been a part of this life saving fundraisng event. Thank you for all your support and interest. I am already looking forward to our next adventure.”
The Rev. Gary Mitchener, a retired priest of the Diocese of Ohio, Erin Kirby, an Episcopal Relief & Development Seminarian Coordinator and Martha Gardner, an Episcopal Relief & Development Diocesan Coordinator and Deputy from the Diocese of Newark provided them with constant encouragement and helped drive the support vehicles.
Rob Radtke, President of the Episcopal Relief & Development said, “We are deeply grateful for Bishop Hollingsworth and the team of cyclists for raising awareness about malaria prevention in our Church. It is a remarkable demonstration of Episcopalians working together towards a common goal.”
The proceeds from the Bishop’s Bike Ride will be designated for Episcopal Relief & Development’s program partnership NetsforLife®, which provides insecticide-treated nets in 17 countries across sub-Saharan Africa to prevent malaria, one of the biggest killers among children under five.
To date, the Bishop’s Bike Ride has brought in $35,218 in contributions and pledges towards NetsforLife®. “The funds that the Bishop’s Bike Ride has raised so far will get 3,000 nets into homes of the families in remote villages in Africa where those nets will protect up to 9,000 young lives from malaria. NetsforLife® appreciates all those that have made this life saving contribution possible,” said Shaun Walsh, Executive Director, NetsforLife®.
To make a contribution in support of the ride, please donate online to “Bishop’s Bike Ride” or call 1-800-334-7626, ext. 5129. Gifts can also be mailed to “Bishop’s Bike Ride” Episcopal Relief & Development, PO Box 7058, Merrifield, VA 22116-7058.
Episcopal Relief & Development is the international relief and development agency of the Episcopal Church of the United States. As an independent 501(c) (3) organization, Episcopal Relief & Development takes its mandate from Jesus’ words found in Matthew 25. Its programs work towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Together with the worldwide Church and ecumenical partners, Episcopal Relief & Development strengthens communities today to meet tomorrow’s challenges. We rebuild after disasters and empower people by offering lasting solutions that fight poverty, hunger and disease, including HIV/AIDS and malaria.