Baltimore, MD — Mirroring their moves on Seattle's Pacific shore 37 days earlier, three dedicated cyclists dipped their tires into the Atlantic Ocean at Seaside Park, New Jersey, on July 31 to complete their 3,000-mile, coast-to-coast "Race to Respond" to bring awareness to the plight of the world's poor and support to the global humanitarian work of International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC).
Cyclists Konstantin Kanelis, 45, from the Netherlands; Brett McKey, 28, from Durham, North Carolina, and team leader, Jim Angelus, 55, from Hopewell, New Jersey, crossed the country with only one support vehicle, driven at times by Brett McKey's father, Dan, and at other times by family friend, Ora Shetler. "We lived very humbly, sharing hotel rooms and eating simple meals. It gave me a chance to focus on the small communities we passed through and to really connect with people, who like me, are ready to lend a helping hand for a greater purpose."
This isn't the first time Angelus and Kanelis have ridden coast-to-coast on behalf of IOCC. In 2002, they were joined by three other cyclists in a 28-day ride from East to West, beginning in New Jersey and traveling across the Midwest, the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, and the Nevada desert before reaching the Pacific coast north of San Francisco. This time, the cross-country route took the cyclists along the northern tier of the country from Washington, through Idaho, Montana, North and South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, covering approximately 3,000 miles in 37 days.
As IOCC celebrates 20 years of delivering more than $400 million in relief to families and communities in 50 countries, Angelus' hope is that this time around, their efforts will expand IOCC's circle of friends and inspire more people across the country to rally behind the "race to respond" to the needs of the world's most vulnerable people. "They need to know that great things start small, like IOCC did, and with support can grow into something really special and inspiring," says Angelus.
Family, friends and IOCC supporters from local Orthodox Christian parishes welcomed the cycling team with cheers, banners and hugs at the conclusion of the ride in Seaside Park. Father Paul Pappas of St. Barbara Greek Orthodox Church in nearby Toms River, New Jersey, joined the group of supporters at water's edge to offer a prayer of thanksgiving for the cycling team's safe arrival to their final destination.
Communities along the way cheered on the Race to Respond team's efforts starting with a sendoff in Seattle by the Assumption Greek Orthodox Church, a surprise rally in Mankato, Minnesota, where the riders were greeted by IOCC volunteers working on a nearby Habitat for Humanity home build, as well as welcoming events at more than a dozen Orthodox Christian parishes across the country. "Many of the small Orthodox parishes that we visited like those in Idaho, Montana and Iowa, are off the beaten path and not often visited," said Angelus. "They were happy to host our team for dinner and let us share our message about IOCC's work helping poor people around the world and here at home." The gatherings grew larger as the team cycled East through Merrillville, Indiana, and McKees Rock, Pennsylvania, where IOCC friends hosted fundraising events to support the Race to Respond mission. "It almost felt like an evangelical journey crossing the country," recalls Angelus, "building support for IOCC and uniting Orthodox faithful into a force for good in the world. The connections we made were uplifting and kept us motivated for our next parish stops."
SUPPORT RACE TO RESPOND
You can also support Race to Respond with a donation to benefit the humanitarian work of IOCC. Through your support, IOCC helps people in crisis and in need to develop the capacity to rebuild their lives and communities. To make a gift, please visit www.iocc.org, call toll-free at 877-803-4622 (IOCC) or mail a check or money order to IOCC, P.O. Box 17398, Baltimore, MD 21297-0429.
ABOUT INTERNATIONAL ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN CHARITIES
International Orthodox Christian Charities is the humanitarian agency of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America. Since its inception in 1992, IOCC has delivered more than $400 million in humanitarian relief and development programs to families and communities in 50 countries.
Media contact: Rada K. Tierney, IOCC Media Relations, 443-823-3489, firstname.lastname@example.org