Bart Thompson (center) and eight others support International Samaritan
with a bike-a-thon spanning the length of Michigan.
On Friday, August 29th, nine cyclists set off on a three-day, 330-mile bike ride from Ann Arbor to Harbor Springs raising money for the non-profit organization International Samaritan. Donations will go toward building two new houses for mothers and families living and working in the garbage dump community in Grenada, Nicaragua. These families live in extreme poverty earning less than $1.25 per day and their current houses are made of salvaged garbage comprised of cardboard walls, plastic tarps for roofs, dirt floors, no running water, and pest infestations. The riders’ goal of $15,000 will build two, new cinderblock homes.
2014 marks the 5th consecutive year for the event, and many of the participants are veterans of this ride. The charity bike ride has raised over $60,000 in the last four years to support International Samaritan programs around the world.
Bart Thompson, a cyclist from Ann Arbor, Michigan and 2008 graduate of St. John’s Jesuit High School in Toledo, Ohio organizes the annual event, and he considers it a personal mission. His love of cycling was born during physical therapy after a crew injury he sustained while attending Stanford University.
Fr. Don Vettese, SJ, President and Founder of International Samaritan, says of Thompson, “Bart is a young man who communicates his beliefs by his actions, and those beliefs are always noble and generous. He is a ‘man for others’.”
This year’s riders are Bart Thompson, 25, of Ann Arbor, MI; Tom Moriarty, 25, of Sylvania, OH; Anthony Chun, 24, of Ann Arbor, MI; Brian Sieben, 50, of Kansas City, KS; Trevor Sieben, 18, of Kansas City, KS; Matt Connolly, 27, of Perrysburg, OH; Joe Miller, 24, of Bowling Green, OH; Taylor Montague, 25, of Sylvania, OH; and Davis Argersinger, 20, of Ann Arbor, MI.
International Samaritan is a non-profit organization founded in 1994 based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The organization strives to alleviate the cycle of poverty for recyclers and families living in and around garbage dumps in the developing world. Most communities lack basic utilities, medical care, proper housing, education, and safe living environments. International Samaritan coordinates its efforts in the United States with over 320 volunteers from high schools, universities, civic groups, and churches and works internationally with local governments, community organizations, and non-profits to make sustainable improvements with these communities.