The cyclists climbed hills for 81 miles from Williamsport, Pa. to Hazelton on Thursday, the toughest day of the Anchor House Ride for Runaways. One hill was so tough that many cyclists had to walk their bikes part way up a steep incline. The cyclists were exhausted at the end of the day, but their spirits were lifted when they learned how much money the 37th annual Ride for Runaways has raised so for far.
As of Thursday morning, the ride raised $453,000 to support the Anchor House shelter and other programs for runaway, abused and neglected kids.
“Thanks you not only for what you do for the ride, but also for what you do all year long to support Anchor House. It’s amazing what you are able to do for the kids,” Anchor House Foundation President John Murray told the 173 cyclists and 36 support crew members as they celebrated their accomplishments at a banquet Thursday night.
The cyclists will continue to collect donations Friday, Saturday, and after the ride is finished. You can make a donation for your favorite Anchor House cyclist online.
Tom Pryor, the president of the Anchor House Board of Directors, reflected on the meaning of the odyssey that draws more than 200 people away from every-day life for a week.
“For many of you the ride is a way of life, ingrained in your DNA. Just as countless miles on the bike hone one’s cadence and set down layers of muscle memory — I ask you to consider whether there is also something more profound going on simultaneously,” Pryor said. “I suggest that a common thread connecting all the folks in this room is your heightened capacity for empathy — the capacity to understand and feel what you do not literally feel, to identify with those whose pain pains you and whose joy is also contagious. It reveals itself through your dedication to bettering the lives of children and youth, some of whom you may never meet or come to know individually.”
Pryor asked the riders to consider whether their dedication to the cause is laying down a kind of “muscle memory of the mind”, stimulating and strengthening within them a deeper capacity for empathy and compassion
“It’s the idea that `What you identify with, builds your own identity.’ All of us were drawn to this mission of serving at risk children and youth in different ways, and we find ourselves together tonight as a community, dedicated and striving to insure the well-being of all children and their best possible achievable outcomes,” Pryor said. “Sadly, too many of our children find themselves uprooted and vulnerable, at-risk and alone — buffeted by life’s storms. For 37 years, Anchor House has been privileged to work with homeless, runaway, abused and neglected children and youth through our various programs. We advocate for them, provide them a safe haven, and empower them to recognize their innate strengths.”
Anchor House’s services are provided through the lens of a trauma-informed model that recognizes that physical or emotional trauma lies at the root of virtually all challenges kids at the shelter face.
Pryor quoted the words of a young woman who was helped at the shelter 25 years ago: “Anchor House was the only place as a kid I felt safe. For the 1st time in my life I was able to breathe and not be afraid.”
Pryor said the woman’s quote sums up the meaning of Anchor House in one sentence.
“Know that with every pedal stroke you have advanced the Anchor House mission, by literally keeping our doors open for almost four decades,” Pryor said. “Know that the impact you have made is lasting, direct and profound. And as you finish the last leg of your journey, I hope you will be mindful of the beauty and depth of meaning behind this magical rite of summer.”
Several riders were honored for their years of devotion to the Ride for Runaways. Participants Bruce Harms, Bob Stults, and Mark Smith each celebrated their 25th year on the ride. Smith has raised $27,000 so far this year for Anchor House in honor of the occasion.
The cyclists pedaled 76 miles from Hazelton, Pa. to Bethlehem, Pa. on Friday. They will complete their seven-day journey Saturday with a 50-mile ride from Bethlehem to Lawrence. The welcome-home celebration will take place at 3 p.m. Saturday at the center court of the Quaker Bridge Mall.
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.