The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

July 1, 2013

Charity cyclists make stop in city

— A total of 27 bicyclists with Bike & Build, a charity that raises money for affordable housing, stopped in Johnstown on Monday as part of their trip from Maine to California.

The bicyclists stayed overnight at the YWCA after a grueling 77-mile trip Monday from State College. The YWCA also provided the bicyclists with a meal. They head to Pittsburgh today.

Eight groups of bicyclists are crossing the country on different routes covering the continential United States, with one traveling briefly into Canada.

The money raised goes to charitable groups that build homes for families.

Many of the bicyclists are making the trip to help organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, and some just like to ride, said Chris Casey, a team leader from Berlin, N.J.

“Bike & Build was perfect for me,” he said. “I have helped to build homes for the past three years.”

Each bicyclist had to raise at least $4,500 to make the trip, he said. Casey’s team raised $152,000. He said they are grateful for their hosts, such as the YWCA in Johnstown, for feeding them and providing lodging so that more of their funds can be used to build homes.

Bicyclist Jeff Lawrence of Dover, Ohio, said residents have been nice to them along the way. On Monday, he got a flat tire. While he was waiting for other riders and the van carrying tools to arrive, a man in a pickup stopped and had the tools needed to repair the flat, he said.

Each rider is a recent college graduate and has a different reason for being on the trip, Lawrence said.

Lawrence, who graduated with a major in city planning, said his passion for helping is related to his field in that it’s important to have safe, affordable housing.

Clair Kuehnel, of West Reading, Mass., who graduated from college with a major in health science, said affordable housing is important because it enables families to have a better quality of life by being able to afford items such as better groceries and health care insurance.

Mary Parson, acting executive director for the YWCA, said the Y was helping the riders to “pay if forward.”

“They’re giving up their summer to raise money and awareness for affordable housing,” she said. “All of us at the Y think that is remarkable.”

The team started the trip June 19 in Portland, Maine, and expects to arrive Aug. 31 in Santa Barbara, Calif.

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