Freedom Ride is a challenge worth doing

For the 11th year, a group of area residents is hitting the bicycle trails this week in an effort to raise money for Tri-State Christian Academy.

This year’s “Freedom Ride” is aimed at its participants riding a combined 1,010 miles, with donations and sponsorships going to cover the costs of education at the local Christian school in the form of scholarships.

The ride has its roots in a 400-mile trip between Weirton and Washington, D.C. just over a decade ago. The following year, participants added an extra 100 miles by riding local trails prior to the trip to the nation’s capital.

These days, it’s more about accumulating the miles than traveling the distance, but that doesn’t make the journey any less important. According to the Rev. Marlin Hawley, pastor at Mercy Baptist Church and one of the original riders, more than 60 percent of the students at Tri-State Christian Academy come from low-income families, with 90 percent needing some form of financial aid.

Every dollar raised through this ride benefits some of our area’s youth in helping them to receive an education.

This year’s ride also holds another special meaning, as it is being held in memory of Herb Nolder, who had been a part of the ride’s support staff since its beginning. Nolder died last August.

Distance riding of any kind is a challenge. Doing so through the hills and valleys of Appalachia provide additional obstacles, but this group has made certain it continues to be a challenge worth doing.