Paul Anderson Youth Home will hold its 18th Annual bike ride July 8 to July 14 and Ponte Vedra Beach is one of the stops along the route.
It is a long-distance ride that will stretch across Georgia and Florida as part of the riders’ journey.
Paul Anderson Youth Home is a fully accredited and licensed program located in Vidalia, Georgia dedicated to offering help to young men facing serious trouble or incarceration for six decades.
What makes the ride even more special is that five young men from the Home will be the ones going on the journey together.
This year will also be one of change for the bike ride, which will take its next step in the event’s growth by expanding this year from five to seven days.
With the addition of the two days, the five riders are projected to cover more than 520 miles.
Along those many miles covered will include a day three stop in Ponte Vedra on July 10 and then leaving from Ponte Vedra and riding 92 miles to St. Simons Island on July 11.
Ponte Vedra will mark the farthest south this year’s route will go.
Since its beginning, the Paul Anderson Bike Ride has commemorated a foundational moment in the history of the Paul Anderson Youth Home, because at its founding in 1961, former Olympic gold-medal winner and the home’s namesake Paul Anderson decided to ride a bicycle from Vidalia, Georgia to Omaha, Nebraska.
That 1,200-mile trek was the start of a fundraising tradition that is welded into the fabric of the foundation.
Anderson’s motivation then was the same as the five riders who prepare to embark on a similar journey of their own.
The mission for the ride continues to serve the overall goal of the organization, which is to raise funds and awareness of the mission to give troubled youth a second chance through Christ.
Since its founding more than 60 years ago, the ministry has celebrated more than 1,400 lives changed through a process of recovery, restoration, and redemption.
"Paul was an incredibly determined man, so when he decided to ride a bike 1,200 miles to Omaha, I felt it was Christ working through him,” said Glenda Anderson Leonard, co-founder and president of Paul Anderson Youth Home. “All these years later, I get the same feeling when these strong young men take to the road, keeping Paul’s legacy of faith and fitness alive.”
The five riders, like all other young men in the program, have been working to overcome a range of challenges, including emotional issues, substance abuse, legal trouble and spiritual deficiencies.
The ride will not just be a physical challenge but will also test the mental strength and fortitude of the riders, while they also work to grow their relationship with God during the ride.
"It takes character to volunteer for this ride, because it is not easy,” Anderson Leonard said. “This endeavor honors the young men’s commitment to changing their lives, accepting the Lord’s word, and the memory of Paul, who was such a gifted athlete.”
Funds raised will allow the youth home to more effectively carry out its mission of helping those troubled.
Supporters can meet the riders, contribute to their success and become a part of the organization’s family of support by going to payh.org and clicking on the donate or get involved tabs.