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Wednesday, August 27, 2014
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Published: Sunday, 6/22/2014 - Updated: 2 months ago

ADVENTURE OF GOOD WILL

Cyclists carry message, repair homes during trek across U.S.

BY JENNIFER GERSTEN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Fuller Center Bike Adventure’s Leah Spurlin, left, and Jenny Zeroun laugh after painting Kert Emperado’s face during a break at the home of Leroy and Dee Jones at 2038 Parkside Blvd. in Toledo. Fuller Center Bike Adventure’s Leah Spurlin, left, and Jenny Zeroun laugh after painting Kert Emperado’s face during a break at the home of Leroy and Dee Jones at 2038 Parkside Blvd. in Toledo.
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Dee and Roy Jones didn’t merely keep their cool when a gang of 38 bikers rolled up to their home at 2038 Parkside Blvd. on Saturday. In fact, the Joneses welcomed them in.

No wild hogs, the 38 are bicyclists with a cause. As participants in the Fuller Center for Housing’s 2014 Bike Adventure, they are riding across the United States from Atlantic City, N.J., to Astoria, Ore., visiting major cities along the way and rehabilitating houses of families in financial need. The Bike Adventure is in Toledo this weekend for the first time on behalf of the Joneses, who were selected from an applicant pool of 17.

“It’s an extraordinarily crazy thing to be biking across the country,” said Joyce Allen, president of the Fuller Center. “But it’s all about making the homes safer places to live.”

The bicyclists and community volunteers worked on the Jones home on Parkside Boulevard all day Saturday, doing electrical maintenance, plumbing, and tree trimming, among other projects. The Fuller Center, a nonprofit, ecumenical Christian housing mission, requires families to participate in the renovations and pay back material costs to the extent they are able. Families are also expected to perform a number of volunteer hours.

Cyclist Kim Elmore works on windows Saturday. After visiting churches in the area, the group returns to the Joneses’ home for a ceremony today with Toledo Mayor D. Michael Collins. Cyclist Kim Elmore works on windows Saturday. After visiting churches in the area, the group returns to the Joneses’ home for a ceremony today with Toledo Mayor D. Michael Collins.
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Melissa Merrill, the trip leader, said the riders represent a diversity of ages — the oldest is 72 — and cycling experience, with a few buying their first-ever bicycles a few days before the team embarked.

The trip has not been entirely smooth. Ms. Merrill said the team battled heavy rains, including thunderstorms, during the trip’s initial weeks.

“As long as it’s not too dangerous, we keep on biking,” she said. “It’s all part of the adventure.”

Michael Wieser works on a window frame at Dee and Roy Jones’ house during a stop by the Fuller Center’s cyclists. Mr. Wieser is one of 38 bicyclists participating. Michael Wieser works on a window frame at Dee and Roy Jones’ house during a stop by the Fuller Center’s cyclists. Mr. Wieser is one of 38 bicyclists participating.
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The founder of the Fuller Center, Millard Fuller, also co-founded Habitat for Humanity. To raise awareness, Mr. Fuller did not ride himself, but instead completed a number of “marathon walks” spanning hundreds of miles, Ms. Allen said.

The cyclists, who are staying at Monroe Street United Methodist Church, will visit five churches today to explain the Fuller Center’s mission and return to the Jones home for a 1:30 p.m. dedication ceremony with Mayor D. Michael Collins. They plan to resume their westward journey Monday.

When the ride becomes particularly arduous, Ms. Miller said the team has devised a way to cope: The more tuneful cyclists will come up with songs for the road.

“We are tired, and it is pretty exhausting work,” Ms. Merrill said. “But it’s rewarding.”

Kristina Bergstom and Greg Zeroun paint walls at the Toledo home of Roy and Dee Jones. The Fuller Center Bike Adventure cyclists travel an average of about 76 miles per day. Kristina Bergstom and Greg Zeroun paint walls at the Toledo home of Roy and Dee Jones. The Fuller Center Bike Adventure cyclists travel an average of about 76 miles per day.
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Donations to the Fuller Center may be made in the care of Joyce Allen, 4412 Crystal Ridge Dr. East, Maumee, Ohio 43537.

Contact Jennifer Gersten at: jgersten@theblade.com, 419-724-6050, or on Twitter @jenwgersten.



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