Cycling team comes to Fairhaven

NILES – The Fairhaven School/ Workshop young adults hosted a group of travelers who are making their way across the nation on their bikes.

The Journey of Hope Cycling Team, which includes 35 riders who left San Francisco in June, stopped by the Niles location as part of their annual cross-country bicycle ride.

They plan to arrive at the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., on Saturday.

The cyclists, who are members of the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity, have been stopping at different locations along the way to raise awareness of people with disabilities.

Linda Thiihonen of the Fairhaven Foundation said this was the 15th friendship visit to Fairhaven School, where there was music, dancing and a pizza party.

Francis Ahrens of Journey of Hope, who is from Missouri, said the team cycles across America to raise awareness and acceptance of individuals with disabilities.

He said the group has been cycling for two months while stopping along the way to meet individuals who benefit from their mission of creating awareness and acceptance across the nation spreading the message of teamwork, integrity and empathy.

Ahrens said they were able to spend the night at Fairhaven and have dinner at the Olive Garden before heading to Pittsburgh.

“This is a meet-and-greet for our young adults and workshop clients. They ask for the autographs of the riders. It’s a nice ice breaker,” Thiihonen said.

Fairhaven Superintendent Ed Stark said “It’s a tremendous event and a good partnership for many years,”

Ahren said there are 25 cyclists and 10 crew members on the journey with team members from across the nation. He said they average 75 miles per day.

“We meet and visit with those who we are raising awareness for. We get tired at times but when the visits start we have so much energy,” he said.

Cyclist Mike Potts of Garden Grove and of Cal State University in Laguna Beach, said the weather has been very cooperative this summer with only one or two days of severe rain that required the riders to stand under a church awning or sleep in one morning and start riding later.

Potts said there were 25 cyclists after two were injured and had to pull out of the ride.

“Every donation we receive we give to organizations like this. We are helping and raising awareness for 63 organizations. We go somewhere new every day,” Potts said.

Cindy Drotleff of the Fairhaven Workshop said the event let her and others meet new friends and spend time with them.

“It was a fun day for everyone,” she said.