Thoughts of fatigue, muscle aches and sore bottoms faded Friday night when the cyclists on the Anchor House Ride for Runaways learned how much money their pedaling has raised so far.
The banquet room filled with cheers as Anchor House Foundation President John Murray announced that the participants in the 36th annual ride have collected $497,000.
“Your hard work has raised so much money, but we are not done,” Murray said. “I want to raise $500,000 by the time we bike into the mall, so keep on bringing the donations in .”
The ride raises more than a third of the money to keep the doors open at Anchor House, the Trenton-based non-profit serving abused and runaway children and teens. The cyclists celebrated their accomplishments at the annual ride banquet and honored participants who are marking ride anniversaries.
This week, Barb Keener of New Hope, Pa. and Trenton firefighter Frank Fanning of Cream Ridge are both completing their 25th ride. Several other cyclists are celebrating five, 10, 15 and 20-year anniversaries.
Ken Natalie of Flemington is one of several ride veterans who received 20-year awards. Natalie first heard about the ride from cyclist Harri Nowrey when he participated in Princeton Freewheeler rides.
“She kept talking about something called the Anchor House ride,” Natalie said. “It was the first I’d ever heard of it.”
In 1994, Natalie, who has a prosthetic leg, trained with Nowrey and two new riders, and loved the ride so much that he has only missed one year since then because of work.
Natalie, who got in shape for this year’s ride by running 1,000 miles and biking about 800 miles, was first attracted to the ride because of the physical challenge.
“Then I started to talk to people and found out what Anchor House was all about,” he said. “My wife and I volunteered at Angels’ Wings. There was a gradual evolution for me. This was not just about a bike ride. It was about an important resource in the community.”
One of the aspects of the ride that he enjoys the most is seeing other cyclists on the road while training from April until July. He loves the camaraderie of the ride, catching up with veteran riders each year, and meeting new cyclists.
Ask him if he thought 20 years ago that he would be doing the ride now, he laughs and shakes his head. “Never,” he said. “It’s been great.”
He and the other 182 cyclists on the ride pedaled 69.8 miles from Lancaster, Pa. to Lansdale, Pa. Friday, enjoying views of farms, horses and buggies along the way.
The cyclists will bike 52.7 miles from Lansdale, Pa. to Pennington for the last day of the ride Saturday. After a picnic at the home of Dorothy Dutko, they will ride from Pennington to the Quaker Bridge Mall for a victory celebration in the center court of the mall at 3 p.m. The public is invited to come to the mall to welcome home the riders.
Reporter Krystal Knapp is a cyclist in the 36th 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.