Alliance, OH to Fostoria, OH
Cleveland, Ohio (IOCC) Praising International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) for its "extra determination and extra faith," Cleveland Mayor Jane Campbell welcomed the cyclists of the "Race to Respond" on Wednesday, Aug. 7, and came away an honorary team member.
Cleveland's Orthodox community showed rock-steady support for the cyclists as they rolled down Lakeside Avenue in the shadow of the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame.
"These cyclists have decided that out of their faith, they are going to take their great physical fitness and ride bicycles across the country to raise support and awareness for IOCC," Ms. Campbell said during a Wednesday afternoon ceremony on the steps of City Hall. "It's an honor to have them here."
The five volunteer cyclists, who are riding cross-country to benefit the humanitarian work of IOCC, rode under police escort past Cleveland Browns Stadium to City Hall, where they were greeted by Ms. Campbell, IOCC board members Bert Moyar and the Rev. Irinej Dobrijevic, and Orthodox clergy and laity from Greater Cleveland.
The ceremony was the only event scheduled for Day 5 of the 25-day "Race to Respond," which is taking the cyclists 3,500 miles across the United States on behalf of the people served by IOCC.
Fr. Irinej gave the invocation, praying that God would "manifest the path of salvation to these your servants (the cyclists) as they endeavor, on behalf of your poor and dispossessed, to travel across these United States of America."
The Rev. Anthony Demetri, pastor of Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Cleveland and co-chair of the Cleveland Metropolitan Committee, then introduced Ms. Campbell, who welcomed the cyclists one by one. She commended the volunteer work they are doing to raise awareness for the needy people served by IOCC throughout the world.
"IOCC may not be the best known humanitarian organization, but it certainly is one that has extra determination and extra faith," she said.
Ms. Campbell also praised the work of IOCC's Cleveland Metropolitan Committee. "As we gather, we are very much mindful that the Cleveland Metropolitan Committee has been raising money for IOCC through its annual banquet for 10 years now," she said.
Ms. Campbell presented "Captain Jim" Angelus, the lead cyclist, with a proclamation recognizing the cyclists and IOCC. It read in part, "I invite all citizens to join me in supporting this outstanding organization for their outstanding service and dedication to the Greater Cleveland community."
Angelus said, "What we have here in Cleveland is truly inspiring us as we travel across the state of Ohio."
The cyclists then gave official "Race to Respond" team jerseys to Fr. Irinej and Moyar, IOCC board chairman. Ms. Campbell also received an official team jersey.
In his remarks, Moyar stressed the opportunities for service that Orthodox Christians have in Cleveland, noting that "IOCC encourages people to put their faith into action in their communities."
Also present for the ceremony were members of the Greater Cleveland Council of Orthodox Clergy, including the Rev. Timothy Sawchak, the Rev. Dennis Kristoff, the Rev. Stephen Callos, the Rev. Remus Grama and the Rev. Paul Patitsas, and members of their parishes. There are an estimated 30 Orthodox parishes in Greater Cleveland.
From City Hall, the cyclists and their support crew were escorted by police to the offices of The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer, a sponsor of the "Race to Respond." Publisher Alex Machaskee, an IOCC board member, gave a reception for the cycling team at his office.
"We wish you Godspeed as you journey to California," said Machaskee, who received an official team jersey. "I can't thank you enough for what you are doing for IOCC."
During the reception, Moyar presented a check for $1,400 from his parish, Sts. Constantine & Helen Greek Orthodox Church in Cleveland, to Angelus.
On Aug. 8, Day 6 of the "Race to Respond," the cyclists will ride from Tiffin, Ohio, to Fort Wayne, Ind., where they will attend a pan-Orthodox reception at Autumn Ridge Golf Club, 11420 Auburn Road, Fort Wayne, Ind.