REYNOLDSVILLE — Sixteen cyclists have been on a mission this summer to transform lives through a bike ride.
The Fuller Center Bike Adventure, a branch of the nonprofit organization Fuller Center for Housing, involves bike riders from across the country raising money and working on housing projects along their route.
The riders travel from Ocean Beach, Calif., to Ocean City, N.J., traveling 75 miles and staying in churches, schools or campgrounds along the way, according to Courtney Fields with the FCBA.
The bicyclists traveled through Reynoldsville the last week of July, and stayed at First United Methodist Church on Jackson Street on July 31.
Trip leader Joel Derksen, who is from Canada, said this is much more than a bike ride — it’s contributing to local communities.
“We’re not just each doing our ride across the country, but rather, we’re working and living together as a community to support each other, as we take on this incredible adventure,” he said. “It’s amazing how a group of strangers at the beginning can come together so quickly to create such a tight-knit community.”
There are seven different “build days” throughout the ride, on each of which volunteers stop to help with a Fuller Center affiliate project, Derksen said.
“We’re there to support the local Fuller Center in whatever ways are most helpful, so our projects vary, based on whatever they have going on,” he said.
In Kansas City, Mo., the riders built a deck and ramp for an 11-year-old boy in a wheelchair. They also do painting, flooring and landscaping.
The global organization, which was started in 2005, is a Christian ministry that builds homes in underdeveloped areas and aims to eliminate poverty worldwide, according to the Fuller Center website.
“Staying at churches gives us opportunities to share what the Fuller Center is doing with local communties, and draw people in to become a part of our mission,” Derksen said.
The riders have built lasting friendships with one another throughout the experience, Derksen said.
“We each end up leaving the ride as a different person than when we started,” Derksen said.
They give presentations to their hosts, too, to give them a better understanding of the organization and hopefully make future connections, Derksen said.
One of the riders, Jim McCracken, found out about the center through the bike adventure, and has since sent four teams to build with the organization in India.
“This is not just a bike ride, but an opportunity to be involved in something much bigger,” Derksen said. “For each pedal stroke we take, each dollar we raise and each swing of the hammer, we’re not only getting ourselves closer to the other side of the country, but we’re also making it possible for a family to live in a decent, affordable house.”
For more information, visit www.fullercenter.org.