The buses headed for the start of the Anchor House Ride for Runaways downshifted as they climbed one hill after the next, causing some cyclists to look out the windows at mountains, valleys, and ski resorts, and call out “we’re surrounded by hills.”
On Sunday morning, the 146 cyclists participating in the 39th annual ride will pedal 65 miles from McHenry, Md. to Somerset, Pa. for the first leg of the seven-day, 500-mile bike trip. They will begin the week by climbing almost 4,800 feet of hills on what has been billed as the most challenging day of the journey.
The cyclist participating in the ride are climbing those hills to raise money for Anchor House, the Trenton-based organization that serves abused and runaway children and teens by providing emergency shelter, transitional living programs and other services. The money raised by the riders ad support crew members in the form of pledges and online donations helps keep the doors open and the programs running at the nonprofit.
On Saturday morning, family members and friends gathered at Arm & Hammer Park to say goodbye to their loved ones and wish them well. Some of the supporters like Susan Fanning were dressed up as superheroes at the festive send-off.
To many of the cyclists, it is the teens and young adults at Anchor House who strive to make better lives for themselves who are the heroic inspiration for their efforts, along with the staff members at who help guide them.
“It’s great that we can still keep doing this ride year after year to support such a great organization,” said cyclist Mark Smith, who will be completing his 27th ride this week with his son, Connor Smith.
“Over the years, the ride has grown to be something phenomenal for our kids,” Anchor House Executive Director Kim McNear told the crowd. “We are very excited that you will be sharing awareness of the needs our kids have while you ride, and while you do support. You are showing people that our kids matter.”
McNear wished the cyclists a safe journey and said people back home will be cheering them on all week and at the Quaker Bridge Mall when they return on Saturday afternoon.
“It will be hot, it may rain a little bit, the hills may be a little difficult, but it is all for the kids,” McNear said.
The crowd joined in an interfaith prayer led by cyclist Dick Currie, who prayed for the cyclists and the kids Anchor House serves. “Keep the wind at our backs, only sun but not too much, and keep us all safe,” he said. “Most of all, help the kids at Anchor House have peace in their lives.”
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The participants in the 39th annual Anchor House Ride for Runaways:
June Albanowski, Mark Andrew, Rich Armington, Harry Aszman, Bob Bartolf, Chris Bella, Lois Bennett, Ken Bitter, Denise Bowker, Jim Brady, Michael Broadhurst, Mike Burke, Jennifer Burke, Rev. Mike Burns, Rebecca Busch, Paul Butterfield, Lisa Cairo, Glenn Cantor, Juan Cardenosa, Ken Carlson, Laura Carlson, Beth Caruso, Virginia Cavella, Christine Chyko, Cheryl Cohen, Lois Compton, Phil Cooper, Anthony Cowell, Gwyn Curbishley, Dick Currie, Paul Currie, Steve Czelusniak, Brent Deisher, George Desser, Kilani DiGiacomo, Peter Downey, Kathy Drulis, Joe, Drulis, Mike Ecker, Cathy Edson, Daryl Ezzo, Frank Fanning, Frank Fanning Jr., Karen Fanning, Duncan Farquhar, Joe Feeney, Joan Feldman-Plumb, Glenn Ferguson, Judy Ferguson, Joe Ferrao, Bryn Fleming Mulligan, Tom Florek, Mark Fonte, Kate Gant, Stephanie Garnich, Peter Garnich, Bill Garrett, Joe Genovay, Sarah Geser, Sue Glass, Ken Gordon, Michelle Goss, Mark Grasman, Ben Hayon, Jack Hayon, Gabe Hayon, Tannya Hemingway, Mark Hillman, Jon Howarth, Jeanne Imbrigiotta, Tom Imbrigiotta, Jim Jenkins, Alex Jenkins, Patty Jewell, Tom Julian, Dee Dee Juno, Dan Keenan, Barb Keener, Frank Kimchick, Dave Kimmel, Krystal Knapp, Jeff Knoll, Blair Kolbeck, David Kossoff, Chris Kunkel, Dave Lashen, Bob Lawler, Carmen Lawler, Jill Lissa, Peter Macholdt, Karen Malone, Steve Marinko, Becca Maslanka, Jeffrey Maslanka, Patti Maslanka,Lauren Maul, Jim Mayer, Paula Mazzola, Mark Mazzone, Martin Mbugua, Jim McDonough, Niall Mcknight, Brian McLaughlin, Janet McLaughlin, David, Meisberger, Ted Millard, Stewart Mittnacht, Patty Mollis, Martha Moseley, Beth Mowery, John Murphy, Chris Murphy, John Murray, Joe Mutinsky, Adam Nantais, Mike Narcowich, Jay Neiderman, John Noon, Julia Obetz, Brian O’Mara, Marc Ostro, Ed Pankowski, Richard Pickup, Rebecca Pierson, Debbie Pisacreta, Pat Pizzutillo, Ralph Porpora, Steve Preville, Tim Quinn, Gina Raimondo, Lorraine Raywood, Don Reichman, David Robinson, Erin Rodgers, Marie Roessel, Bill Roessel, Mark Rosvold, Rachel Rosvold, Dave Rosvold, Liz Rosvold, Eric Rounds, Tom Ryan, Gretchen Schroeder, Sherry Schweighardt, Paul Shapiro, Ken Sharples, Greg Sheffer, Jeanette Sheffer, Deborah Shepherd, Stephen Shepherd, Connor Smith, Mark Smith, Kathy Sonnenfeld-Squires, Rick Squires, Jake Starr, Jim Sumner, Andrew Tebben, Donna Telencio, John Telencio, Barbara Tenney, DeWayne Tolbert, Peter Travers, Fred Ulshafer, Tom van de Sande, DJ Varner, Paul Von der Heyden, Jill Voorhees, Marina Vrahnos, Scott Wagner, Steve Walker, Caroline Walradt, Carol Ward, Bill Ward, Karriem Wardlow, Paul Welsh, Amy Wight Eckel, John Wright, and Claudio Zancani.
Krystal Knapp is an embedded reporter cycling in the 39th annual Anchor House Ride for Runaways. To learn more about Anchor House or the ride, or to make a donation, visit the Ride for Runaways website.