St. Joseph, MO to Belleville, KS
Attending the "Race to Respond" event at All Saints Antiochian Orthodox Church in Salina, Kan., on Wednesday, Aug. 14, were (back row, from left) cyclists Constantine "Dino" Davlantis and Alex Mazarakos, His Grace Bishop Basil, auxiliary bishop of the Southwest Region of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese, IOCC board members Dr. George J. Farha and David S. Elkouri, cyclist Michael Tsakalos, IOCC Executive Director Constantine M. Triantafilou, and (front row, from left) cyclists Konstantin Kanelis and Jim Angelus.
"Race to Respond" cyclist Alex Mazarakos (far left) addresses IOCC supporters at All Saints Antiochian Orthodox Church in Salina, Kan., on Wednesday, Aug. 14, while cyclists Michael Tsakalos and Jim Angelus listen.
IOCC Executive Director Constantine M. Triantafilou (far right) meets with the Rev. Chad Hatfield, pastor of All Saints Antiochian Orthodox Church in Salina, Kan., and Mary Ann Khoury, organizer of the Aug. 14 "Race to Respond" event in Salina.
Salina, Kan. (IOCC) The cyclists of the "Race to Respond" faced tiring, strong headwinds as they rode across northern Kansas on Wednesday, Aug. 14, but their reception in Salina, Kan., at the end of the day was like having the wind at their backs.
After riding nine hours, the cycling team attended vespers for the Eve of the Dormition of the Theotokos and a dinner reception at All Saints Antiochian Orthodox Church in Salina, where the Rev. Chad Hatfield is pastor.
"The support was huge," said Constantine M. Triantafilou, executive director of International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC). "You could see the energy they had as far as supporting the riders was concerned."
A Lebanese buffet awaited the cyclists and an estimated 80 guests, some of whom drove long distances from Wichita and surrounding communities to attend.
"The people we got were a really good representation of Orthodoxy in Kansas," said Mary Ann Khoury, organizer of the event.
His Grace Bishop Basil, auxiliary bishop for the Southwest Region of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese, called for the service to be in Salina to encourage Kansas clergy and laity to attend.
"(Bishop Basil) gave his blessing for an All-Kansas vespers in recognition of the 'Race to Respond,' " Ms. Khoury said. "The people really enjoyed it. They really wanted to hear about the cyclists."
Triantafilou noted that Bishop Basil was "extremely supportive. He was thanking us for the blessings we brought with the riders."
Triantafilou opened Wednesday's program by speaking of IOCC's work and mission. He noted that the Orthodox faithful are an essential part of IOCC, and that the "Race to Respond" is a way to connect Orthodox Christians with each other and with the people served by IOCC throughout the world.
The volunteer cyclists also addressed the crowd, speaking of their experiences while crossing the country on behalf of IOCC. "By going through a little pain, I may be able to make life a little better for someone I may never meet," said cyclist Michael Tsakalos.
Cyclist Konstantin Kanelis of Munich, Germany, spoke about Orthodox philanthropy. "It's easy to say good words with a full stomach, but many people do not have full stomachs …. They have no voice. IOCC is an interface - a voice for the weak," he said.
Bishop Basil praised the cycling team for its hard work and sacrifice on behalf of the poor.
The cyclists and IOCC support staff received icons of the Theotokos with Christ. The cycling team presented an official team jersey to Bishop Basil, as well as "Race to Respond" T-shirts to Ms. Khoury and Fr. Chad.
Other clergy in attendance were the Rev. Paul O'Callaghan, dean of St. George Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral in Wichita, Kan., and the Rev. Christopher Holwey, pastor of St. Mary Antiochian Orthodox Church in Wichita.
IOCC board members Dr. George J. Farha and David S. Elkouri, both of Wichita, also attended the event.
Day 13 Thursday, Aug. 15 marked the halfway point for the "Race to Respond," which is taking the cyclists 3,500 miles in 25 days as a way to raise awareness and support for the people served by IOCC.