Cycling, “Virtual” Teams Gearing up for IOCC Race

Baltimore, MD (March 13, 2002) — They come from all walks of life, but for 25 days in August they’ll put their lives on hold for a common goal: to support the humanitarian mission of International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC).

They are the official race team for the “Race to Respond,” a coast-to-coast bicycle tour celebrating IOCC’s 10th anniversary as the premier humanitarian aid agency of Orthodox Christians in North America. The five men, ranging in age from 26 to 45, will ride from New Jersey to California starting on Aug. 3, 2002.

They are: team leader Jim Angelus, 45, an advertising professional from Hopewell, N.J.; Constantine “Dino” Davlantis, 30, an aircraft mechanic from Oaklawn, Ill.; Konstantin Kanelis, 35, an electrical engineer from Munich, Germany; Alex Mazarakos, 27, a telecommunications professional from Burbank, Ill.; and Michael Tsakalos, 26, a development officer from Phoenix, MD.

“For me, cycling across the country is going to be such a huge challenge,” Tsakalos said. “But completing this race also will leave a legacy for IOCC and the people it serves worldwide.”

The five cyclists are top-conditioned athletes who have dedicated countless hours to a training regimen that will enable them to complete the grueling 3,500-mile race. Their epic ride will take them from Keyport, N.J., to Point Reyes Station, Calif., and all points in between.

The IOCC benefit is not a race in the traditional sense but a long-distance test of endurance. The race route covers the hills of Pennsylvania, the plains of the Midwest, the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, and the “loneliest highway” in America: U.S. 50 in Nevada. The cyclists will reach elevations of 12,200 feet, including the 7,130-foot climb up Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Accompanying the riders will be a support-and-gear crew, a lead crew and an IOCC staff vehicle. The support team will closely monitor the cycling team, prepare meals, maintain equipment and provide advance scouting.

Support team members include crew chief Kerry San Chirico, a seminarian at St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary in Crestwood, N.Y., and bicycle mechanic Zack Burkett, a longtime cycling enthusiast and crew veteran of the Race Across America.

Along the way, Race participants will attend dozens of rallies and welcoming events at Orthodox Christian parishes and other venues.

“I think it’s an effort that will be supported and embraced (by all Orthodox Christians),” said Kanelis, who has done cycling tours in the Alps.

The purpose of the Race is to raise awareness and funds for the humanitarian mission of IOCC, which was founded in 1992 by the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas. Since then, the agency has done more than $130 million in programs in 21 countries.

The cross-country bicycle tour is a tangible way to show how IOCC works to connect communities around the globe. Every day, IOCC is in a “race” to respond to the needs of people suffering from war, disease, natural disaster, poverty and famine.

Realizing that most people cannot cycle across the country, IOCC is offering other ways for individuals, parishes, businesses and organizations to support the Race to Respond.

Individuals and organizations can form virtual “e-teams” by logging on to the Race Web site at Parishes along the race route can host a rally or welcoming event for the race team, and a variety of sponsorship opportunities also are available. Through e-teams, people can help the Race team reach its goals of building awareness about IOCC and raising money in support of its mission.

Participants can combine their efforts via the Internet, set their own fund-raising goals and invite others to join. Those who register to start or join an e-team will receive regular e-mail updates on the progress of the race.

Those who make a donation of at least $125 on-line will receive an official Race to Respond T-shirt. Prizes also will be given for the top fund-raising e-participant and top e-team.