Garri George Sr. and his son are preparing to go on a road trip where they will be very in touch with the outdoors — they will be riding their bicycles from Edgewood to Gatlinburg, Tenn., and back.
The 400 to 500 mile trip the father and son go on is an annual fundraiser for Youth for Christ.
For George, 59, the executive director for East Central Indiana Youth for Christ, this is the 19th bike ride he will be going on to raise money for his non-profit organization. The first three years the rides were within Indiana. This will be his 16th year riding to Tennessee.
About seven years ago, his son, Garri George Jr., started joining him on the long trips.
Funds are raised through pledges and donations, and each year it is George Sr.’s goal to raise at least $10,000.
To support the Georges’ bike ride, send donations to P.O. Box 123, Anderson, IN, 46015. For more information on the organization or the fundraiser call 608-3058.
The money raised goes toward Youth for Christ operating expenses, including rent, insurance and utility bills for its office in the Warner Press building on the Anderson University campus.
“In Youth for Christ our purpose is to reach out to kids ages 10 to 19 and build trust and a relationship and into a trusting relationship with Jesus Christ,” said George Sr., who has worked with Youth for Christ for 29 years. “We do that through Campus Life clubs and activities to build trust, love and friendship. Our ultimate goal is to see them reach for Christ and to belong to a Bible-believing church.”
Last year, George and his 40 volunteers worked with six middle schools, three elementary schools, two high schools and the Madison County Juvenile Detention Center.
“Our purpose is for the sake of kids who are in tremendous need for direction in their life,” George Sr. said. “They need guidance in regards to peer pressure, drug abuse, substance abuse, how to treat others with respect including authorities.
“Kids need to know they have personal worth,” he said. “God has a plan for each of their individual lives. They have a purpose. They are not just a piece of flesh.”
The father and son go on the bike trip to raise money for a good cause, but it also benefits them in other ways.
“It is a challenge. It’s just fun eating at different places and meeting people,” George Jr. said. “I think it has (gotten easier) each year. You learn a little more about how to train for it.
“It’s nice to get away from the smells and noises,” he said.
When George Jr., 23, started going on five to 10 mile bike rides on his own he decided he would like to go on a longer trip and join his father.
“I love the physical challenges. I like feeling like I’m exploring, like a back packing trip,” he said.
The pair take a small travel bag with them with a few changes of clothes. They stay in people’s homes overnight or in inexpensive mom and pops hotels. They give themselves a full week to travel and spend a day or two in Gatlinburg, visiting shops and resting.
“The bike trip is a love-hate relationship. Part of it I love, part of it I ask myself, ‘Am I having fun yet?’” George Sr. said, jokingly. “But it gets me physically in shape. I look forward to it.”
Both father and son agree that the trip gives them time to bond.
“Especially when we have flats in the rain,” George Jr. said.
“That’s when you find out how much we really love each other,” George Sr. said, chuckling. “One time we had a flat, probably by a cock farm. The roosters just crowed and crowed and crowed. It was like they were laughing and mocking us — like a huge choir. Yes, we have had some humorous things happen.”
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