Triumphant Touchdown – Lasallian Volunteers dipping their tires into the surf at Seven Presidents Oceanfront Park, Long Branch, to mark the completion of their cross country ride on Aug. 13.

Triumphant Touchdown – Lasallian Volunteers dipping their tires into the surf at Seven Presidents Oceanfront Park, Long Branch, to mark the completion of their cross country ride on Aug. 13.

Soaring spirits and spoked wheels touched sand and surf as dozens of bicyclists ended their cross-country odyssey August 13 at Seven Presidents Oceanfront Park, Long Branch. This summer’s Pacific to Atlantic Ocean cycling event aimed to raise funds and awareness for the Lasallian Volunteers (LV), a program designed by the Brothers of the Christian Schools to enrich the lives of the poor through education and volunteerism.

A total of 50 bicyclists joined a core group of 10 national cyclists for regional or day segments over the course of the nine-week LV fundraiser bicycle journey. The 3,600-mile trek began in Warrenton, Ore., on June 16 and wound its way along a northeast route through the continental United States.

After dipping their bicycle wheels in the Pacific Ocean, the cyclists pedaled eastward through Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania before concluding  at their final destination in Long Branch.

 “It was such a great experience overall,” said Elizabeth Moors Jodice, communications coordinator for the Lasallian Volunteer Program. “Other than a few flat tires, they were blessed.”

Cyclists spent 49 days cycling with a day of rest every seven to ten days. A support van accompanied them and supplied water, snacks, and logistical support. Along the route, the LVs were housed and fed by various churches and civic organizations. Even rudimentary accommodations were appreciated by the weary cyclists, who averaged about 70 miles of pedaling each day.

Jodice laughed, “As one of the riders said, ‘At the end of the day, you are so tired that even the floor looked good!’”

On days spent off the bicycle seat, cyclists reinforced their mission by volunteering for service: in Fridley, Minn., riders packed dehydrated meals for shipment to the refugee camps in East Africa; in Rapid City, S.D., they served breakfast at a men’s shelter; in Missoula, Mont., LVs distributed peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to the homeless in City Hall Park; and in Romeoville, Ill., cyclists served as role models as they taught bicycle safety to area youth.

St. John Baptist de La Salle founded the Brothers of the Christian Schools in the late 17th century; in the nearly 300 years following, Lasallian schools have been founded in over 80 countries around the world and presently educate over one million students. Locally, Christian Brothers Academy, Lincroft, is one of about 50 secondary schools in the Lasallian network nationwide.

The national non-profit organization Lasallian Volunteers, headquartered in Washington, was founded in 1989 and is a member of the Catholic Volunteer network. The program places volunteers in schools and agencies whose mission is to serve the poor in a Gospel-rooted way. Over the course of the program’s existence, 540 volunteers have dedicated a year or more of their lives providing over 100,000 hours of service to 8,215 children and families each year.

The cyclists’ journey came to an end the afternoon of August 13 at Seven Presidents Park, Long Branch, where 21 weary but joyous cyclers dipped wheels into the Atlantic Ocean. Later, they reconvened at Christian Brothers Academy for a reception; the cyclists enjoyed hamburgers and hot dogs as they viewed a slide show of the trip highlights and received commemorative plaques.

The CBA campus is also the site of the Lasallian Provincialate, and Brother Robert Schieler, FSC, General Councilor of the United States-Toronto Region was present to meet and thank the cyclists.

Tom Magrini served as a support van driver during the Chicago to Pittsburgh leg of the journey. “I followed the ride throughout the summer and decided to volunteer to help,” Magrini said. “When I saw a few injuries and how tired the riders were, I was grateful to stay in the air conditioned van!”

The Neptune native and parishioner of St. Elizabeth Parish, Avon, completed a year as a volunteer history teacher at La Salle High School, Yakima, Wash., and is re-enrolling for another school year. “It’s a good school, and the Lasallians have great support from the staff and each other. [Lasallian influence] is far reaching,” Magrini stated.

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