1,500-mile cycling journey benefits special needs kids

1,500-mile cycling journey benefits special needs kids

Eleven Bike 4 Friendship cyclistsenjoy a warm welcome and festive sendoff at Friendship Circle of Miami as PinecrestMayor Cindy Lerner presents a proclamation in honor of the event.

Eleven determined women rode out of Friendship Circle of Miami on June 30 and began a 1,500-mile cycling journey to raise awareness and funds for children with special needs. They’re still pedaling.

The cyclists’ four-week East Coast trek from Miami to New York is taking them through nine states and 25 cities.

The women will bike five to seven hours each day and stop at synagogues, YMCAs and Friendship Circles along the way, all the while spreading the

Friendship Circle motto: Recognizing abilities. Celebrating differences. The women cyclists are seeking to enhance awareness and understanding of the unique gifts of those with special needs. They also are asking everyone — friends, admirers and well-wishers alike — to make a donation to the Bike 4 Friendship cause. To date, more than $100,000 has been raised. Friendship Circle of Miami director Nechama Harlig was thrilled that the cyclists, who represent five states and three other countries, chose the Miami chapter as their starting point.

“We had the opportunity to spend the weekend with these dedicated women and learn what motivated them to embark on this courageous journey,” Harlig said. “Most of them had volunteered with Friendship Circle at some point during their life and felt very connected to the organization’s mission.”

Friendship Circle is an international organization which connects teenage volunteers with children, teens, and young adults with special needs to foster a sense of companionship and community. The program’s activities also build social, recreational and educational skills — skills that cannot be attained through traditional therapies, Harlig said. Friendship Circle of Miami helps more than 200 families in the area with 14 different after-school and Sunday morning programs.

Friendship Circle of Miami participants and supporters gathered to cheer on the cyclists. After an energizing breakfast and ceremony, Pinecrest Mayor Cindy Lerner read a proclamation declaring June 30 Bike 4 Friendship Day and cut the blue starting line ribbon.

As the cyclists rode toward S. Dixie Highway, a yellow Penske truck adorned with Friendship Circle stickers and carrying their necessities and a support team followed. The cyclists’ Bike 4 Friendship journey is scheduled to culminate on July 28 in Manhattan.

“These women are showing everyone they meet just how far they will go to spread the message of friendship and acceptance towards children with special needs,” Harlig said. To learn more about Bike 4 Friendship and follow the cyclists online, visit <www.Bike4Friendship.org>.

To learn more about the Friendship Circle of Miami, located at 8700 SW 112 St., visit www.FriendshipCircleMiami.org

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