About 1,650 miles of cycling, 22 days on the road and $3,000 raised to combat poverty housing are the parameters of the Rev. Tim Leighton's plan to participate in a charity bike adventure this summer.
Leighton, the pastor of Church of the Holy Trinity, United Church of Christ, in Hagerstown, will be riding along the West Coast from Seattle to San Diego beginning July 15 as part of the Fuller Center Bicycle Adventure, the fifth annual event organized by the Fuller Center for Housing.
He said he chose the trip for his sabbatical because it combines his love of outdoor adventure and his desire to help give families a better place to live.
This summer, the Fuller Center has organized an East Coast bike ride, as well as a West Coast one, and each participant must raise at least $3,000, or $5,000 if they plan to take both trips, according to the center. Leighton said he chose the West Coast route because it will be more of an unfamiliar trek for him, as he grew up in Maine and has worked in Miami.
“The appeal of riding that was a little less than the Pacific Coast Highway,” he said.
About 26 riders traveled part or all of the East Coast route from Maine to Key West, Fla., which ended July 1. Leighton’s West Coast trip will have 38 total participants, with 27 along for the whole ride, he said.
And although the approximately 1,650-mile trek is shorter than the East Coast trip — which covers about 2,000 miles — Leighton said its difficulty will more than make up for it.
“The West Coast is going to be more challenging, with some substantial mountains,” he said.
While the group will bike about 37 miles on the first day, on average, bikers will cover 75 miles a day, Leighton said.
A vital component of the trip is the participants’ contributions to help eliminate poverty housing, he said. Interspersed throughout the 22 riding days, bicyclists will have several rest days, as well as two days to work on Fuller Center housing projects.
“The group on the East Coast, they did painting, did some hanging of drywall, just a myriad of stuff,” he said. “You don’t necessarily have to have any skills in these areas.”
The Fuller Center provides homes with no-interest loans to get people out of substandard housing, with the requirement that they do some work on the construction or rehabilitation of the homes themselves, Leighton said.
“The family has to agree to put in the sweat equity,” he said. “It’s about 400 hours of labor. Volunteers do the majority of the rest of the work.”
In addition, each biker can either choose where to donate the money they’ve raised or designate it to go “where most needed.”
Leighton said he reached his minimum goal of $3,000 on July 2. He is fundraising to donate to housing in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where he worked as a Peace Corps volunteer after graduating from college, when the country was known as Zaire.
He said his work as a water and sanitation technician there fueled his desire to give back to the community by sponsoring a house for a family.
“One hundred percent of the money raised will go toward that project,” Leighton said, calling the $3,000 minimum fundraising requirement “motivation” for the bikers.
“Sort of as we’re riding, the assumption is people may raise more as the ride goes along,” he said.