Stockton, Calif. (IOCC) After an exhilarating ride through California's Sierra Nevada Mountains on Monday, Aug. 26, the "Race to Respond" cyclists visited the first and oldest Serbian Orthodox parish in North America.
The midday stop at St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Church in Jackson, Calif., included lunch and a tour of the church and the church cemetery.
"This is a great thrill for you folks to visit us," said Sam Kostich, parish council president. "There are a lot of other churches you could have visited, but you chose us."
"I congratulate all you guys for the effort you're putting out. Your cause is wonderful," said Amador County Sheriff Mike Prizmich, a parishioner at St. Sava's.
The five cyclists are riding to raise awareness and support for the people served by International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC), including people victimized by the 1992-1995 Bosnian war and the 1999 Kosovo crisis.
In the former Yugoslavia, IOCC has been active with more than $50 million in aid since being invited by the Serbian Orthodox Church to work there in 1992, providing emergency relief to war refugees and, more recently, assisting them in their return to their pre-war homes.
The cyclists' visit to St. Sava's came one day prior to the anniversary of a 1922 mining disaster that killed 11 Serbian miners in Jackson. A grave outside the church is marked "miners' graves."
Each year, St. Sava's rings its bells on Aug. 27 to honor the victims of the disaster.
St. Sava's was established in 1894 by Serbian immigrants who came to California during the gold rush to work in the gold mines. They bought the land where the current church sits for $250 in gold coins, Kostich said.
The church is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has numerous historic artifacts.
After the midday event, the cyclists rode through wine country in central California. They ended the day in Stockton, Calif., where St. Basil Greek Orthodox Church hosted an event for the cyclists.
"I marvel at (riding) 125 miles a day," said the Rev. Michael Pappas, parish pastor. "These guys are like the new martyrs because of their witness and sacrifice."
At the event, Sara Glaros, president of the St. Basil Philoptochos chapter, presented IOCC staff members Ivan Bojanic and Dan Christopulos with a check.
Tuesday, Aug. 27, marks the last day of the "Race to Respond." The cyclists will complete their 25-day, cross-country journey at Point Reyes Station, Calif., on the Pacific coast.
The "Race to Respond" is presented by Advantage Plus Inc., makers of Ten Plus nutritional supplement drink.
IOCC Cyclists Near End Of 25-Day Ride
South Lake Tahoe, Nev. (IOCC) Nearing the end of their 25-day journey across the United States, the cyclists of the "Race to Respond" reached beautiful Lake Tahoe on Sunday, Aug. 25.
The cyclists were jubilant as they crossed from the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe to the California side.
"This is the most beautiful place we've been to so far on this ride," said cyclist Konstantin Kanelis, who is from Munich, Germany.
From here, the cyclists will ride through the Sierra Nevada Mountains to Stockton, Calif. And then, on the last day, they will ride to Point Reyes Station, Calif., on the Pacific coastline.
Over the weekend, the cyclists finished their ride through Nevada on America's "loneliest highway" U.S. 50. On Saturday, they rode from Eureka to Fallon, Nev.
On Sunday, they rode from Fallon to Carson City, Nev., and then around Lake Tahoe.
The remote stretch of highway was a reminder of the isolation faced by many of the communities served internationally by IOCC and the great lengths that it takes IOCC field staff to reach those communities in need.
Also on Sunday, IOCC Volunteer Service Coordinator Ivan Bojanic gave a presentation at St. Anthony Greek Orthodox Church in Reno, Nev., and Development Officer Dan Christopulos spoke at Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Sacramento, Calif.
The cyclists have volunteered the entire month of August to ride cross-country to raise awareness and support for International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC).
Along the way, they have experienced the generosity and hospitality of Orthodox Christians in dozens of communities who have welcomed them.
The goal of the "Race to Respond" is to raise $250,000 for the humanitarian work of IOCC. To donate, call 877-803-4622 or visit www.racetorespond.org.
The "Race to Respond" is presented by Advantage Plus Inc., makers of Ten Plus nutritional supplement drink. Other sponsors include Light Street Cycles in Baltimore, Md., The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer newspaper, Marcus & Millichap, a real estate investment brokerage company, and Rocky Mountain Orthodox Christian Charities and Missions, Inc.