Fifty-five cyclists to cross finish line at ACU for fund-raising bicycle trek

For immediate release
August 6, 1999

ABILENE - Fifty-five cyclists will complete a 350-mile bicycle trek at Abilene Christian University's Mabee College of Business Administration parking lot Saturday, Aug. 7. The trek is a fund-raising effort for Christian children's services affiliated with the Impact Church of Christ in Houston.

Cyclists will be crossing the finish line at approximately 12:45-1 p.m. Abilene city councilman Rob Beckham and ACU Vice President Gary McCaleb will be standing ready to welcome the cyclists to Abilene with plenty of water and other refreshments.

Dubbed the Chain Gang Ride, the effort generates 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.

The cyclists have been travelling from Houston to Abilene since Aug. 4. The Chain Gang Ride is fully supported with sag wagons, regular water and snack stops, medical personnel and comfortable accommodations at night. Evening meals were provided by churches along the route.

History of the Chain Gang Ride

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.

The beneficiaries

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 every child is special and deserves a helping hand when life is difficult. The center provides children, ages 2 to 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. Dr. Marianna Rasco, chair of ACU's Department of Family and Consumer Sciences, and Melanie Copelin, an ACU graduate and director of the center, developed the program.

The Impact Youth Development Center is a safe place for teens, ages 14 to 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.

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Last update: August 6, 1999
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