McConnellsburg, PA to Shelocta, PA
IOCC "Race to Respond" Cyclists,
John G. Rangos Meet in Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh (IOCC) Crossing over the hills of Pennsylvania, five Orthodox cyclists traversing the United States to bring awareness to the humanitarian work of International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) took a break from their cycling to meet with IOCC Board Member and past chairman John G. Rangos in Pittsburgh, Pa.
The IOCC "Race to Respond" team (from left) Alex Mazarakos, Constantine "Dino" Davlantis, Konstantin Kanelis, IOCC Executive Director Constantine Triantafilou, past IOCC Chairman John G. Rangos, Jim Angelus and Michael Tsakalos paused during their cross-country trek in Pittsburgh, Pa. where IOCC launched its first airlift of medical supplies and food to the Russian Federation 10 years ago.
"What does the Church mean if we do not do something?" said Rangos during an evening dinner reception with the team. "I am so happy to see these men. What they are doing is really tremendous."
Ten years ago it was Rangos and the fledgling IOCC that brought joy to the people of the Russian Federation with the first airlift by IOCC, which departed from Pittsburgh International Airport. Laden with relief supplies, the airlift brought critically needed medicines and food to the Russian people following the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
Since that dramatic moment in Pittsburgh a decade ago, IOCC has provided more than $140 million dollars in relief and development assistance to 21 countries around the world.
The five cyclists are Orthodox Christians who have volunteered to "race" across the country to raise awareness about the needs of the people and communities served through IOCC.
Constantine "Dino" Davlantis of Oak Lawn, Illinois presented Rangos with an official team jersey as he made him an honorary member of the cycling team. Coming on the heels of stops in Princeton, N.J. and Steelton, Pa., the hometowns of IOCC Board members Anne Glynn Mackoul and Dr. Beverly Yanich, Rangos became the third IOCC Board member to visit with the team and be given the official team jersey.
IOCC Executive Director Constantine Triantafilou was also on hand for the dinner reception.
"In the worst hit places of the world, it's nice to know how our hands have touched those who have such need," said Rangos. "This is an important thing you are doing for a really great organization. God's speed to each of you."
This year IOCC observes its 10th anniversary. IOCC was founded as the official humanitarian relief and development organization of Orthodox Christians by the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas.
To learn more about the "Race to Respond" and to track the progress of the cycling team, log on to www.racetorespond.org or visit the IOCC website at www.iocc.org.
Pittsburgh, Pa. (IOCC) - Shouts of "I-O-C-C!" echoed off the hills of southwestern Pennsylvania on Monday, Aug. 5, as the cyclists of the "Race to Respond" rode triumphantly into Antiochian Village in rural Ligonier, Pa.
More than 300 people, including 250 young campers, greeted the cyclists with cheers worthy of a rock concert when the cyclists approached on a rainy Monday afternoon.
The visit to the Orthodox Christian campground was part of the cyclists' itinerary on Day 3 of the 25-day benefit ride for International Orthodox Christians Charities (IOCC). The five cyclists are riding cross-country to raise awareness and support for the people served by IOCC throughout the world.
"We are so excited that you guys decided to make a stop here," said the Rev. Michael Nasser, camp director.
While three of the cyclists were at the camp, the other two visited with His Eminence Metropolitan Nicholas of the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese in Johnstown, Pa.
Along the 3,500-mile race route, the cycling team is stopping at Orthodox parishes and other locations to explain the mission of IOCC on its 10th anniversary. Since 1992, IOCC has brought more than $140 million in humanitarian assistance to people suffering from natural disasters, war and poverty in 21 countries.
On Monday, the excitement at Antiochian Village was palpable even before the cyclists arrived. "All summer long we've been talking to the campers about what IOCC is doing (with the 'Race to Respond')," said Christa Shaloub, 20, of Livonia, Mich., a counselor at the campground. "To have you guys here is one of the biggest thrills of the summer."
Once the cyclists arrived, the campers chanted "I-O-C-C" over and over again. A large sign read "Welcome IOCC Riders."
"This gives us the strength to continue our ride," said cyclist Konstantin Kanelis, 35, of Munich, Germany.
After the cyclists addressed the crowd, Fr. Michael offered prayers for their safety. He noted that some campers have family in the West Bank, where IOCC has been active assisting vulnerable Palestinians caught in the violence of the last two years.
Fr. Michael presented a check of $1,570 to IOCC on behalf of all the campers this summer. "Thank you for sharing your journey with us (and) your commitment," he said.
So far, the cyclists have ridden more than 300 miles since the race started on Aug. 3. They will continue riding, averaging about 130 miles a day, until they reach San Francisco on Aug. 27.
Their itinerary for Tuesday, Aug. 6, includes stops at Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Ellwood City, Pa., and Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Akron, Ohio.