FULTON, Ill. — A cross-continental bicycle group rode into Fulton on Monday for an overnight stop-over at Unity Christian High School.
The Sea to Sea bike tour, a charity campaign to end poverty and hunger in the world, arrived around 2 p.m. in Fulton and set up camp in the large grassy field behind Unity Christian.
In addition to giving them a place to sleep, volunteers prepared a meal for the cyclists thanks to donations from Sweetheart Bakery and the Fulton Chamber of Commerce.
"It has really turned into a bit more of a community event than we thought it would," Unity Christian School Board Vice President Cheri Hirl said.
Around 120 cyclists took part in the 95-mile ride from Coralville to Fulton, 80 of which will participate in the entire nine-week, 3,900-mile tour across the United States and parts of Canada.
"Our goal is to connect with churches and schools along the way and promote poverty awareness," tour director Al DeKock said.
This year is DeKock's first attempt at organizing the tour, which takes place every five years. He said there have been a few bumps along the way.
"We have experienced three natural disasters during our tour: 120 degrees in Phoenix, Ariz., a rain washed-out road in Gallup, N.M., and wildfires in Colorado," DeKock said. "Now we're getting into a little normalcy."
The purpose of the ride is not only to raise awareness of poverty worldwide, but to also raise money to combat poverty worldwide.
DeKock said riders that have taken part in the full nine-week tour were required to raise $10,000 prior to the ride. Once the tour is completed, DeKock expects the group to raise close to $1.5 million in total for charity donation.
"My vision is to open this up to more people," DeKock said. "The more people we can involve, the more we can get the word out about what we are doing."