Campership Bike-A-Thon: They Made It!



About 25 United Methodists from around Western Pennsylvania completed the last leg of their 315-mile journey by bicycle from McKeesport, PA to Washington DC just after dark on Friday, Oct. 4. They started their trek on the Yough Trail at Boston United Methodist Church near McKeesport on Monday, Sept. 30 in a drizzle. During the journey things heated up -- to 96 degrees on the third day--but they enjoyed the scenery and camaraderie as they kept their goal in mind. They're raising funds so any child who wants to can go to camp regardless of ability to pay. 

You can help by donating to one or more of the bikers or praying for a group each day. Here's how: 

  • Use this link to our secure donation page Campership Bike-A-Thon  
  • Text the word “funds” to 833.243.0074 and follow the instructions
  • Use the mobile donation page
  • Mail a check marked Campership Bike-a-Thon to Treasurer's Office, The United Methodist Center, Box 5002, Cranberry Twp., PA 16066-0002.
  • Each day photos of five (four on Friday) bikers will be featured on WPAUMC's Facebook page and on this page so you can pray for them specifically. On Friday, Oct. 4, pray for Chris, Mary, Rick and Donnie.
Follow their progress on Facebook using #wpabikeathon.

"We want to make sure that those who have been pushed to the margins of our society have the opportunity to meet and know Jesus through our camping and retreat ministries," said Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi, who's planning to complete the entire 315 miles.  

They Made It!  

The 2nd annual Campership Bike-a-Thon is part of the Deeply Rooted, Upward Reaching capital campaign to support the WPA Conference's Camping and Retreat Ministries.  More than twice as many riders signed up to raise funds by riding in 2019 than in 2018, when an inaugural group which blazed the trail. 

Some are repeating the trek they completed last year, including: the Rev. Chris Kindle, who organized the trip; Rev. Raphael Koikoi; Rev. Matt Blake, pastor of the Bradford Area Parish; Rev. David Ewing, pastor of Greenstone UMC; and Ellen Gainer of Central Highlands UMC.  

Most of the 27 bikers committed to making the full 315-mile trip along the Great Allegheny Passage and C&O Canal Trail to Washington. Others joined the group for a day or more.

Monday's ride was along the Youghiogheny River trail to Ohiopyle, a distance of 57 miles. From there: Day 2 (Oct 1) — Ohiopyle to Cumberland, 73 miles; Day 3 (Oct 2) — Cumberland to Hancock, 60 miles; Day 4 (Oct 3) — Hancock to Harpers Ferry, 63 miles; Day 5 (Oct 4) — Harpers Ferry to DC, 62 miles. Before heading home, most of the group planned to tour the African American Heritage Museum. 

Although the main purpose of the Bike-A-Thon is to raise money and awareness for camperships, it also addresses other areas of the Conference's Five Areas of Focus. Participants will be physically challenging themselves while promoting abundant health, creating new places for new people and dismantling racism.

Each biker paid a fee for the ride and has a minimum fundraising expectation of $500. 

For the second year, Bill Jacka, Conference multimedia/event production specialist, is driving a truck and trailer stocked with food, gear and supplies and will rendezvous with the bikers at various stops along the route. Because of an increase in the number of bikers this year, Social Media Coordinator Liz Lennox and Laura Blake, wife of Biker/Pastor Matt Blake, also will drive to rendezvous and assist with bikers' needs.