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Fundraising fathers make bamboo bike stop

Submitted by on 1, July 13, 2009 – 5:45 amNo Comment
The Rev. Ron Shlak with a bamboo "triplet" bicycle he's riding as part of a fundraising campaign to fight hunger.

The Rev. Ron Schlak with a bamboo "triplet" bicycle he's riding as part of a fundraising campaign to fight hunger.

The Rev. Ron Schlak jokes about the fact that he’s on a fundraising bike tour to fight hunger, but he’s been fed so well that he’s actually gaining weight. But his efforts are no laughing matter.

The Charleston, West Virginia-based pastor is part of a trio of Evangelical Lutheran pastors who are cycling cross-country in an effort to raise $5 million to fight world hunger. This past Sunday, Schlak – and the custom-made bamboo “triplet” bike he and his fellow riders are using – made a stop at Trinity Lutheran Church here in Alameda.

Shlak said one of his fellow-riders, the Rev. David A. Twedt, came up with the idea for the ride in 2001, after completing a similar ride on his own to raise funds for bikes to be sent to fellow pastors in Madagascar. (The third member of the “3 Rev Riders” is the Rev. Dr. Fred A. Soltow Jr.)

“We said, ‘That sounds crazy. But it’s something that would attract attention,'” Schlak recalled.

When they finally decided to do it, one of the pastor’s sons-in-law suggested the trio get a custom-made, bamboo bike from Santa Cruz bikemaker Craig Calfee. The one-of-a-kind bike took six months to make, and they got an unsolicited grant to pay its $10,000 cost.

Alameda was stop number 47 on the 66-stop, 100-day trip, which ends in Minneapolis (they’re going to all the churches in their synod). The pastors expect they’ll travel 13,000 miles (they’ve ridden their bike nearly 1,800 miles to date; they bike 30 to 40 miles a day and travel by van or plane the rest).

The Rev. Schlak estimated the riders have raised several hundred thousands dollars to date; he said they’ll know the full amount this fall.

In the meantime, if you want more information or you want to donate to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s World Hunger efforts, click here.

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