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|Yuma/Hyde, CO to Loveland, CO
August 17, 2002
Loveland, Colo. (IOCC) "God bless you! You made it!" said Presbytera Sophia Schutte as the "Race to Respond" cyclists rolled into North Lake Park in Loveland, Colo., with an escort of Harley-Davidson motorcycles.
Her voice could barely be heard above the din of motorcycle engines, cheers, sirens and hand-made, children's noisemakers.
Mrs. Schutte was among an estimated 200 people from Colorado and Wyoming who came out and supported the cyclists on Saturday, Aug. 17, as they continued their cross-country ride on behalf of International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC).
Mrs. Schutte's parish, Archangel Michael Greek Orthodox Church in Colorado Springs, Colo., where her husband, the Rev. Dennis Schutte, is pastor, was one of 12 Orthodox churches that participated in the event.
The five volunteer cyclists ended Aug. 17 - the 15th day of the ride - in Loveland, after riding more than 130 miles from Yuma, Colo. They were overwhelmed by the reception they received at beautiful North Lake Park.
"The support we get along the way is what gets us through the day," said lead cyclist Jim Angelus. "It makes us feel like something really is starting to happen."
"One thing that's propelled us forward has been the Orthodox communities that have come out to support us," said cyclist Michael Tsakalos. "It means an awful lot to five cyclists who sit on bikes 10 hours a day."
Prior to the cyclists' arrival, the Rev. Louis Christopulos, pastor of St. Catherine Greek Orthodox Church in Greenwood Village, Colo., got the crowd fired up with exhortations through a bullhorn, asking for the different parishes to identify themselves.
They included: St. Herman Orthodox Church in Littleton, Colo., St. Luke Orthodox Church in Lafayette, Colo., Holy Transfiguration in Denver, Sts. Constantine & Helen in Pueblo, St. Mary's Holy Dormition in Calhan, Assumption Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Denver, Sts. Peter & Paul in Boulder, Sts. Constantine & Helen in Cheyenne, Wyo., St. Augustine in Denver and St. James in Wellington.
"I see this as a chance to express our unity in Christ from all (Orthodox) jurisdictions," said Jim Brown of Colorado Springs, a parishioner at St. Mary's.
Saturday's event was hosted by Rocky Mountain Orthodox Christian Charities and Missions, a sponsor of the "Race to Respond." Angie Elliott, the chief organizer, was given a "Race to Respond" crew T-shirt.
A service of Great Vespers, led by the Rev. John Armstrong, began at 5 p.m., followed by a roast lamb dinner and a program.
In his remarks, IOCC Development Officer Dan Christopulos likened the "Race to Respond" to IOCC's daily "race" to respond to the needs of people suffering from natural disaster, war and poverty.
"The race is on for the thousands of children who die of starvation every day. The race is on for the refugees in Serbia who haven't been able to return to their homes after 10 years. The race is on," he said.
His Eminence Metropolitan Isaiah, presiding hierarch of the Greek Orthodox Diocese of Denver, was unable to attend Saturday's event because of a prior commitment, but in an interview with Christopulos, he praised the cyclists.
"The word sacrifice has virtually disappeared from our contemporary vocabulary," Metropolitan Isaiah said. "But these five cyclists are sacrificing for those in need and remind us that sacrifice is an integral part of the Christian life."
The program was closed with a prayer that all 19 member-churches of Rocky Mountain Orthodox Christian Charities and Missions have been praying during the 25-day ride.