Cyclists riding for charity stop in Cape

Thursday, July 29, 2010
Peter Schloss, right, Lissa Whittaker and John Mocella ride their bicycles Wednesday on Broadway in Cape Girardeau. They are part of Cycling for Change, and its goal is to reduce poverty in America one mile at a time. (Fred Lynch)

Cyclists riding for Catholic Charities USA stopped in Cape Girardeau on Wednesday during their cross-country trek to highlight the need to help Americans battling poverty.

The Cycling for Change ride started in Cape Flattery, Wash., on May 29, and will end 5,100 miles away in Key West, Fla., on Sept. 5.

The team is led by the Rev. Matt Ruhl, a pastor whose last church was St. Francis Xavier in Kansas City, Kan. He is now between churches, riding during his sabbatical. He has been biking for five years.

"It's estimated that 40 million Americans live below the poverty line," Ruhl said. "One in seven households live in fear wondering where their next meal will come from -- that's 14 percent of American households. Twenty-two percent of the homeless are children, one in three is a vet. The figures are staggering."

He said in 2008 Catholic Charities donated $2.8 billion to fight poverty.

"Only the United States government invests more," he said.

Each rider had to raise $10,000 to participate, Ruhl said.

"All this ride is trying to say is, if American businessmen, lawmakers and citizens decided to end poverty in America, there is no doubt in my mind it could be done," Ruhl said.

He said Catholic Charities' goal is to reduce poverty in the United States by 50 percent by the year 2020.

The team arrived in Cape Girardeau in two waves. They entered town on Perryville Road, turned right onto Broadway, then turned left onto Kingshighway and ended at Cape Bicycle. Ruhl said all the bike repairs are either paid for by the rider or by the charity, but most shops give a discount for work.

Jeremy Ruzich, 25, of Kansas City, is the youngest rider on the team of 12. He said he has been mountain biking for four years but that this is his first cross-country ride.

While riding through Kansas he took a spill and split his chin. He clipped another biker's wheel, went down and was run over by a biker. He ended up in the hospital with six stitches. Still, he said the ride has been "incredible" and that he is looking forward to seeing rural communities.

Their next stop is in Hickman, Ky.

jhargraves@semissourian.com

388-3654

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