Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

June 24, 2013

Color of bike tour rides into PV

Barry Porterfield
Pauls Valley Democrat

bporterfield@pvdemocrat.com — They call it an adventure and colorfully clad bike riders might make it look that way as a cross country tour with a real mission will soon pull into Pauls Valley.

Riders, part of the Fuller Center Bicycle Adventure, won’t actually make it into PV until Friday, June 28.

Once here they will continue to spread their word while staying the night at a local church.

The group of riders are traveling by bicycle from Georgia to Canada this summer raising awareness for a non-profit housing ministry that works to battle poverty.

“The Fuller Center is a Christian organization that works for the low-income and people in need of affordable housing,” said Melissa Merrill, one of the many volunteers helping the center.

“Working with volunteers we build new homes and renovate homes,” she said.

“The bike ride across the country is to bring awareness to the need for more affordable housing in the world. We try to meet new people and tell them about what we do.”

As part of her volunteer work, Merrill is also serving as the leader for this summer’s sixth annual cross-country ride.

The ride got started earlier this month in Savannah, Ga., which is not far from the Fuller Center.

Next week the team of two dozen plus cyclists will be traveling from Shreveport, La., to Oklahoma City, which are sites for a couple of building projects done by Fuller Center volunteers.

In between is Pauls Valley, which was randomly selected as a place to stop for the night on June 28.

Once here the group cyclists ranging in age from 15 to 71 will stay at PV’s First United Methodist Church before heading out for Oklahoma City the next morning.

“We stop along the way and try to stay in churches to help keep the costs down,” Merrill said.

“We start calling churches in a town and look for a friendly voice so we can stay on the floor.”

From Oklahoma the bike tour will wind its way through Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Washington and get to its final destination of Vancouver, British Columbia in Canada.

The Fuller Center for Housing was founded in 2005 by Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient and Habitat for Humanity founder Millard Fuller and his wife Linda as a continuation of the affordable housing ministry they started 40 years ago.

The 3,700-mile bicycle trek is the center’s single biggest fundraiser, having generated more than $750,000 in the past five years for the fight against poverty housing around the world.