By Kaylie Lowrie
Braving hard rains, 29 cyclists joined a 500-mile bicycle ride from the Texas town of Boerne to Dallas to raise money for the Texas Baptist Hunger Offering and awareness about hunger and poverty around the state and world.
The sixth annual Bike Out Hunger ride drew participants from across Texas — and a few from Colorado and New York — to promote the offering, which supports 180 ministries worldwide through food programs, education initiatives, job training and community development.
Gavin Huddleston, a member of First Baptist Church of Arlington, Texas, checked an item off his bucket list by riding this year. While he achieved his personal goal, he found the ride even more rewarding than he imagined.
“I feel energized from the experience and deeply moved by the opportunity to support hungry children,” he said. “I ride many charity events during the year, but none of them have the personal significance — the deep personal investment — that goes with Bike Out Hunger.”
Riders faced many challenges, including an unusual number of flat tires and rain delays. Along the way, congregations — including First Baptist churches in Fredericksburg, Dripping Springs, Marble Falls, Temple and Corsicana — provided meals for the cyclists each night, offered encouragement and told stories about the impact the Texas Baptist Hunger Offering makes in their communities. Participants joined in a closing ceremony at Dallas Baptist University.
Tim Randolph, director of missions for the Waco Regional Baptist Association, participated in Bike Out Hunger for the third time. This year, his son, Joel, a surgical nurse from Colorado, joined him.
People with enough food to eat cannot understand the plight of others who do not, Randolph said.
“Over 30 percent of people are below the poverty line in the greater Waco area,” he said. “Instead of making broad statements like, ‘We are going to eradicate hunger in Waco,’ we instead ask: ‘Who is our neighbor?’ and ‘How can we respond to their needs?’”
The Waco Regional Baptist Association has received several grants from the Texas Baptist Hunger Offering, he noted. One grant enabled the association to hire a senior outreach coordinator, who works through Waco-area churches to identify food-insecure senior adults.
The association identified more than 30,000 food-insecure senior adults in the area, including many who never had asked for assistance and did not know where to turn for help. On a case-by-case basis, the association now is able to work with churches to connect senior adults in need of assistance with local food resources.
John Gonzalez, a rider from Houston, found his second Bike Out Hunger experience eye-opening.
“I thought I knew what to expect and that I would be fully prepared physically and emotionally for the week,” Gonzalez said. “Little did I know that I would be riding side-by-side with someone who had personally experienced years of hardship and hunger as a part of his family’s everyday life.”
Knowing why his teammate was riding made a lasting impression on Gonzalez. “Waking up the next day to ride 92 miles was easy.”
Gonzalez and his teammate made plans to participate as often as possible in the future.
“Last year, I made the trip to the starting line alone,” he said. “I finished in Wichita Falls as part of a small team. This year, I made it to the start with two Bike Out friends. We finished as part of a family. I can’t wait for next year.”