On Saturday, May 25th, a group of GFA World staff and students had the opportunity to participate in the 13th annual Niagara Bike-a-thon hosted by Word and Deed Ministries. We were excited to join with over 200 riders to bike along the beautiful Niagara Parkway in support of the Nakekela HIV/AIDS Clinic in South Africa.
At 8:30 am the weather was grey and wet when we arrived at Queenston Heights Park. No one seemed to be discouraged by the weather as preparations for the bikeathon were in full swing with bikes being unloaded from vehicles and participants gearing up with rain coats and supplies for the ride.
Once all of our bikes had been loaded onto the bike shuttles, we took a bus to the starting point at Mather Arch Park in Fort Erie about 30 minutes away. By 10 am, the official send-off time, the rain had lifted a bit so the event organizers opened with a prayer and the bikers were off!
There are two route options for riders: a 40.5 km challenge route which goes all the way from Fort Erie back to Queenston Heights Park or the 26 km fun route which goes halfway to Kingsbridge Park in Chippawa. The longer route begins at Lake Erie and goes almost all the way to Lake Ontario, earning the name of Lake-to-Lake bikeathon.
About 10 km into the ride, the sun came out and it turned into a beautiful day. It was exciting to see the long line of riders in bright orange shirts stretching out down the trail! A large number of children joined for the event with little ones riding in wagons behind their parent’s bikes and some energetic ones on their own small bikes.
Along the route were rest stops where we could take a break and refuel on water and snacks. We reached the halfway point around noon where some of our group opted to take the shuttle back to Queenston Heights. The rest of us continued on past Niagara Falls and the Rainbow Bridge to arrive at 40.5 km finish point about 90 minutes later.
Back at Queenston Heights Park we enjoyed a delicious free barbeque lunch and prizes were awarded to the top fundraisers. Henk Evers, a long-time supporter and fundraiser for the event, raised $17,110. Altogether, participants collected a total of $76,743 in support of the Nakekela HIV/AIDS Clinic.
At GFA World, our desire is to bring Hope to those who are suffering in needy communities around the world. It was a privilege for us to join Word and Deed for this event knowing that together we were able to make a difference for patients fighting HIV/Aids in South Africa.