"Chain Gang Ride" recruiting cyclists

For immediate release
July 21, 1999

Impact Church of Christ in Houston is accepting applications for Abilene area cyclists to participate in the annual 350-mile Chain Gang Ride from Houston to Abilene.

The Chain Gang Ride will raise funds for Small Steps Nurturing Center and Impact Youth Development Center, two youth programs of the Impact Houston Church of Christ, located in Houston's inner city. Organizers expect to raise $150,000.

The cyclists are scheduled to travel from Houston to Abilene Aug. 4-7. The Chain Gang Ride will be fully supplied with support vehicles, regular water and snack stops, medical personnel and comfortable nightly motel rooms. Evening meals will be provided by churches in Caldwell, Gatesville and Brownwood.

This year, cyclists are invited to join the Chain Gang on Aug. 7 for a 70 mile, one day ride into Abilene from Brownwood. Cyclists will depart from the 4H Camp on Lake Brownwood/ FM 3021 at 6:30 a.m. Lodging can be arranged for the night of Aug. 6.

Upon arrival in Abilene Aug. 7, the cyclists will be honored at a reception, hosted by Abilene Christian University.

Charlie Middlebrook, a missionary in residence in the Department of Missions at ACU and Impact Houston minister, had cycled the 350-mile trip several times already when David Pratt, a Houston business consultant who took a class at ACU under Middlebrook in 1995, suggested he put his effort toward a good cause.

In August, 1995, the Chain Gang Ride rolled out its first six bikers to raise $35,000 for Small Steps and to celebrate Middlebrook's 50th birthday.

Participation more than doubled to 16 cyclists in 1996, and to 45 cyclists in 1997.

Participants of all ages and backgrounds are encouraged to join the Chain Gang Ride. Several teens as young as age 14, ACU students, alumni and the Dyess Air Force Base Cycling Club have been part of the growing number of participants.

Small Steps Nurturing Center and Impact Youth Development Center evolved from the work of a group of inner-city Christians at Impact Houston Church of Christ who saw an opportunity to strike at the root of the problems affecting the inner city by practically applying the Good Samaritan parable.

Small Steps was begun by Christians who believe that every child is special and deserves a helping hand when life is difficult. The center provides children, ages 2-5, a strong foundation for entering school. Instructors teach the fundamentals of numbers, letters and colors along with a positive self-image supported by a nurturing environment. Developers of the program are Dr. Marianna Rasco, chair of ACU's Department of Family and Consumer Sciences, and Melanie Copelin, an ACU graduate and director of the center.

The Impact Youth Development Center is a safe place for teens, ages 14-18, to go after school and on weekends to prepare for service and leadership in their community. Caring adults equip the teens who were once part of city gangs or who have few positive influences in their lives with life and job skill training, computer training, and math and reading tutoring.

Both programs are "not for profit" organizations, depending solely on outside financial support. The Board of Directors chose not to solicit or accept funding from the federal government. All donations are fully tax deductible.

Each cyclist is required to pay an application fee of $50 and all applications must be received by August 1. The application fee for students and seniors is $25. Each cyclist is responsible for raising a minimum of $500 in pledges. For the one day Brownwood ride, a minimum of $150 is requested.

To participate please contact ride sponsors at Biketown, (915) 677-2453, at 1433 S. 1st St. in Abilene or the Bike Pedaler in Brownwood at (915) 646-1497. Applications also may be obtained by calling (281) 370-8014.

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If you are a member of the media who would like more information about this release, please contact Tom Craig, director of media and community relations, at craigt@nicanor.acu.edu or call 915-674-2692.

Last update: July 21, 1999
This page is maintained by Tom Craig, craigt@nicanor.acu.edu.