First Presbyterian Church hosts riders

70-day trek raises cancer awareness

WARREN — The members of First Presbyterian Church in Warren opened their doors to a group of 30 cyclists from across the country who are on a 70-day, 4,000-mile trek to raise awareness to young people battling cancer.

The cyclists — helped by the Ulman Foundation — were riding through the Warren area after leaving Baltimore on June 2. Their final destination is Seattle, where they expect to arrive Aug. 10.

Dave Skipper, a church member, said this is the third year the church has hosted the riders. He said they received a call a month ago from the group asking to stay overnight.

The church members also provided the group with a meal.

Alana Gross, co-director of the group, and rider Tess Brown, both of California, said the riders schedule different places to stop.

“In past years, the church has let us stay here, so we were glad to return,” Gross said.

Gross said they travel about 79 miles per day and appreciate the churches, YMCAs and other locations that sponsor them. She said the effort has been held for more than 19 years.

Taylor Jones, a cyclist, said the group keeps information of available stops from previous years, and the riders were excited to be able to come back to Warren.

The money raised by the cyclists will go to the Ulman Foundation, which helps those teens and young adults ages 15 to 35 battling cancer.

Brown said the fundraising will help with special housing near John Hopkins Hospital for families with loved ones in the Baltimore hospital.

“It is a large home with many items donated,” she said.

Skipper said the congregation is glad to be able to help the group save money, which can instead be used for helping people battling cancer.

“The less money we can help them not have to spend will help them with the purpose of their ride,” Skipper said.

Brown said two vans accompany the riders, with participants rotating times inside the van.

“We want to raise awareness to what the Ulman Foundation does and provides. This awareness helps us to get the word out,” she said.

Brown said riders are all over age 21 and are either on summer break from college or work.

“They have the time in the summer months to ride. Each of us was called to do this for a different reason. We all have connections to cancer in our community — whether it is a parent, a relative, a friend — and want to help with the battle against cancer,” Gross said.

The riders said they will travel rain or shine but with lightning they take cover.

Carlie Pritt of Ohio and Kai Olson of Minnesota said they like that the group is biking through the states they are from and try to get near their hometowns.

“We are all sharing the message of the importance to find a cure for cancer,” Brown said.