Centre Volunteers in Medicine Charity Bike Race Draws Riders from Across Pennsylvania
The dedication and altruism of bicycle riders from all over Pennsylvania has been one of the Centre Volunteers in Medicine’s most effective tools in providing free medical and dental care to the uninsured.
Sue Forrester, communications and special events coordinator with the CVIM, says the turnout of about 160 riders for the sixth annual Cycling for Care event on Saturday was “really great,” though it pales in comparison to the high number of uninsured and under-insured individuals in Centre County.
“The last census had 33,000 people in this area without dental insurance, and 12,000 without health insurance,” Forrester says.
The CVIM helps combat this overlooked epidemic through a donor-supported free clinic that offers medical and dental care to the uninsured and underinsured of Centre County. With a goal to raise $33,000 on Saturday through registration fees and business sponsorships, Forrester says events like this are indispensable for providing these services.
Bikers ranging from children to senior citizens congregated at the Fairbrook United Methodist Church in Pennsylvania Furnance in the cool morning air. With three paths ranging from eight to 61 miles through the foothills of the valley, Saturday’s event offered something for bikers of all experience levels.
For some, like Bellefonte resident A.J. Sacyln, the ride is more than exercise. It's a chance to make a difference.
For the second year in a row, Saclyn is the event’s top fundraiser, having spent his own free time to raise money from friends and family. Having torn his Achilles heel last year, Saclyn says he can only wonder at the difficulties faced by the uninsured.
“I can’t imagine for a moment what it must be like to not have dental or medical insurance,” Saclyn says. “These aren’t people that are sitting at home on the couch, either. They’re out there working hard.”
CVIM case manager Shelley Murray says that over 80 percent of the nonprofit’s clients “work one or more jobs,” which includes many workers in part-time and minimum wage positions with no benefits.
“In many ways, this may appear to be an affluent area, but plenty of people still struggle with things like finding affordable housing and insurance,” Murray says.
Steve Moyer of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania shares Saclyn’s passion for helping others. A fervent participant in charity races across the state for many different causes, Moyer made the two-hour drive to Centre County to ride through Happy Valley’s rolling hills.
“I grew up on a BMX bike and just never got off,” Moyer says, explaining his passion for charity races. “Even though this race isn’t local to me, it’s still important for this community.”
Kyle Burnside also traveled for Saturday's race, driving from DuBois after learning about the Saturday's event the night before. Burnside says it was his first time riding in a group, something he’s been looking forward to.
“I only got into biking somewhat recently, and it’s helped me make a huge body transformation,” Burnside says, having lost weight and gained confidence over the past year. “For me, biking has been a really transformative process.”
State College resident Steve Schaeffer also enjoys the convenience and health benefits of biking, but says the event’s cause weighed more heavily on his mind when he decided to ride on Saturday. With a strong commitment to helping people, he was glad for the opportunity to “work on improving my health while raising money to help others with their own.”