The aches, pains and heat exhaustion faded from the cyclists’ minds as they crossed the finish line Saturday and learned how much money their sweat equity has earned for Anchor House so far.
When Anchor House President John Murray announced at the Quaker Bridge Mall that the 35th annual Ride for Runaways has raised more than $516,000, the cyclists screamed, cheered and pumped their fists. Some had tears in their eyes.
The amount is a record for the annual ride, and the dollar figure will continue to grow over the coming weeks as donations keep pouring in. The money raised through the ride covers about a third of the operating costs to keep the doors open at Anchor house, the Trenton-based nonprofit that serves abused and neglected children and runaways.
One of the original four cyclists who participated in the first ride 35 years ago from Florida to Trenton was on hand to share in the celebration. Mike Yuhas, who completed the first ride with his brother Joe in 1978, welcomed the cyclists home.
“Thirty-five years ago I never would have imagined the ride would continue and grow like this and raise this kind of money,” Yuhas said. “Thanks so much for keeping it going.”
Several cyclists reached major milestones on the ride. Support crew member LeRoy Harms and cyclists Ken Sharples celebrated their 25 year on the Ride for Runaways.
Dick Currie of Lawrenceville celebrated his 20th ride. Currie, a deacon at St. James Church in Pennington, was joined by his brother Paul Currie, who lives in Lancaster, Pa.
“It was nice to ride with my brother to celebrate,” Paul Currie said. Asked if he plans to come back, the brothers joked “ask me in a month.”
The ride was the toughest many veteran riders recall, as temperatures reached the 90s every day and the heat index soared above 100 degrees. Support crews distributed record amounts of ice and water, and many cyclists left each morning around 5:30 a.m. to try to beat the heat.
“The heat was tough,” new rider Connie Curtis said. “But I’m not as sore as I thought I would be by the end. I’m happy about that.”
New participant Harry Crampton, who is from Liverpool, England and joined his friend Tom Ryan of Pennington on the ride, said he has never experienced such hot riding conditions. Despite the heat, he is already thinking of returning.
“The best part of the ride was the wonderful people,” he said. “It was a lot of fun and I hope I’ll be back next year.”
Reporter Krystal Knapp is a cyclist in the 35th annual Anchor House Ride for Runaways. For more information about Anchor House or to make a donation, visit www.anchorhouseride.org, where you can also make online donations in a cyclist’s name. Donations can also be sent to the Anchor House Foundation, P.O. Box 2357, Trenton, NJ 08607-2357.