bruce-on-skatesBelow is a post written by Bruce Sienkowski detailing his calling to the Sea to Sea cause. Enjoy! Thanks for writing, Bruce.

 

The Sea-to-Sea Tour is a physical challenge as well as a moral one. Sea-to-Sea asks us to unite as athletes as well as Christians. Around this time of year, we begin training for our leg of the journey; at the same time, we mobilize our communities of support by asking them to come alongside us in the form of donations.

The ride is a pilgrimage. We ride with a common mission: to witness the work already being done to end the cycle of poverty and to allow ourselves to be changed in the process. A rolling stampede of sweaty bodies, we infiltrate small-town coffee shops, churches, and pubs, sharing stories of our journey with the communities along our route, and in return, learning about the work they are doing to empower the disadvantaged among them.

Funds raised by over 200 riders go to addressing issues of poverty in ways that mobilize leaders to affect change. As the name suggests, the ride extends from the West Coast of North America to the East and takes about nine weeks to complete—riders can, however, choose to participate in one or two week segments.

The Sea-to-Sea ride was born in 2004 and has been based out of Grand Rapids since 2006. In the past eleven years, the ride has raised $5.5 million. Funds go to Partners Worldwide, which provides third-world entrepreneurs small loans and business mentorships and to World Renew, which works within communities around the world to build sustainable development in education, healthcare, farming, small business and disaster relief. Funds also go to communities along the bike route and participants’ hometowns to further ongoing efforts to break the cycle of poverty at ground level.

I feel particularly called to this ride because I am able to blend my passion for skating with my call as a Christian. As inline skating is a niche sport, thousand-mile rides are not common, so I’m blessed to have found a family of cyclists who have taken me in. All of us, regardless of the size of our wheels, are responding to the call of our faith to help the poor, the marginalized, the disabled—those who do not have the opportunity to help themselves.

I recognize that having the time, resources, and opportunity to prepare and participate in this journey is a privilege in itself: it is a privilege to be the one raising money rather than the one accepting help. It is a privilege to cycle for exercise and entertainment rather than for refuge or escape. In Sea-to-Sea, I can channel my sport toward a greater purpose.

Each day of my 500-mile trip begins in makeshift camp with my fellow riders. We wake up on high school football fields, in church basements and state campgrounds, taking a break from our modern lives of convenience to slow down and live a bit more simply, in the hope of helping those for whom survival is not a luxury.

Whether you skate or cycle, serve as a volunteer or donor, a host or a prayer partner, there is a way to join this cast of hope in this time of great economic disparity, and social injustice. The cloud of dust we leave in our wake, the conversations and relationships we craft along our way, are a legacy of action in a world of ambivalence.

Though we aim to raise an impactful financial donation, our bigger dream is to engage people like you, people in our local communities, to face problems of poverty in their own backyards. To that end I have set a personal goal of engaging 1,000 donors with a donation of $1 each. I feel strongly that making this connection with 1,000 people at $1 each is more important that finding a single donor to provide $1,000 in support.

I invite you to join me in being a part of this legacy.