Morgantown, PA to McConnellsburg, PA
Chambersburg, Pa. (IOCC) Borne upon the prayers and enthusiastic support of Orthodox Christians in southern Pennsylvania, the cyclists of the "Race to Respond" had a successful second day of riding for International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC).
The five volunteer cyclists are riding cross-country in 25 days to raise awareness and support for the people served by IOCC throughout the world. Their journey started on Saturday, Aug. 3, in Keyport, N.J.
Day 2 took them through Lancaster, York and Chambersburg, Pa. They completed the day in McConnellsburg, Pa., riding approximately 121 miles in intense heat.
Late Sunday morning, the route took a planned detour to St. Nicholas Serbian Orthodox Church in Oberlin/Steelton, Pa., where the Rev. Srboljub Jockovich, parish priest, said prayers of blessing for the cyclists and IOCC.
"O Lord, grant success to the IOCC cyclist mission," Fr. Srboljub prayed, "bringing good news to suffering people and confirming for them your love and compassion in times of great need."
Fr. Srboljub also prayed for "strength, guidance and safety" for the cyclists, so that they will complete their journey "for the benefit of the suffering people of the world."
The cycling team was warmly and enthusiastically greeted by the parishioners of St. Nicholas, who hosted a breakfast and reception after the Divine Liturgy. Among those in attendance was IOCC board member Dr. Beverly Yanich.
"We are proud to be one of your first stops on the 'Race to Respond,' " said parishioner Olga Klipa, who helped organize the event. "We wish you a safe and prosperous trip. Thank you for working for such a great cause."
Before the cyclists departed, parishioners gathered outside and sang "Ziveli Na Mnogaja Ljeta" (God Grant You Many Years) to them.
Despite the heat, the cyclists made good time from York to Chambersburg, Pa., where they were greeted by parishioners of St. Mary (Antiochian) Orthodox Church and parish priest, the Rev. Ted Pulcini.
Joining them for that leg of the ride was St. Mary's parishioner Larry Steele, 51, an amateur cyclist who guided them to the church. There, parish children greeted the cycling team with homemade signs.
Fr. Ted prayed for the cyclists in a short service. During refreshments, cyclist Michael Tsakalos compared the cross-country ride to the humanitarian work of IOCC. Just as a cycling event requires teamwork, he said, the help that people receive through IOCC is made possible through the coordinated response of Orthodox Christians.
In addition to Tsakalos, 26, of Phoenix, Md., the "Race to Respond" team members are Jim Angelus, 45, of Hopewell, N.J., Constantine "Dino" Davlantis, 30, of Oak Lawn, Ill., Konstantin Kanelis, 35, of Munich, Germany, and Alex Mazarakos, 27, Burbank, Ill.
As the cyclists "race" across the country, their mission is to highlight IOCC's own "race" to respond to the needs of people suffering from natural disaster, war and poverty.
The cyclists' itinerary for Monday, Aug. 5, includes stops at Antiochian Village in Ligonier, Pa., and Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Johnstown, Pa., the headquarters of His Eminence Metropolitan Nicholas of the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese.