COMMUNITY: 36th annual Agony Ride raises more than $190,000 for Christian Encounters Ministries | TheUnion.com

COMMUNITY: 36th annual Agony Ride raises more than $190,000 for Christian Encounters Ministries

Submitted by Jennifer Palmer

Numbers matter. When it comes to describing a fundraiser, they're essential.

Take Christian Encounter Ministries' 36th annual Agony Ride, held Friday and Saturday in the Sierra Valley.

There are numbers that detail the ride: 82 cyclists, 27 of whom rode the Agony for the first time this year. There were more than 100 saggers (short for support and gear). A total of 937 personal messages of encouragement sent to riders via the event's website, https://agonyride.org. And the 24 hours during which cyclists rode as far as they could.

There's also the food required for such a venture: 600 cookies, 450 eggs, 320 hamburgers, 300 protein balls, 51 pounds of powdered gatorade, 24 pounds of peanut butter and 15 pounds of coffee. Plus gallons of soup, scores of sandwiches, and countless other items to keep riders on their bikes and saggers on their feet.

Then there are the numbers everyone talks about, the glory numbers.

Mileage: Both Jonathan Palmer and Manuel Prado rode for 367 miles to lead the men. There were four women who rode more than 300 miles each: Angelica Cachro (312), Sharon MacLean (312), Zoya Lee (304), and Carol Douglass (302).

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But the ability to ride hundreds of miles isn't a prerequisite for the ride; mileage numbers started at 42 and went up from there. Total number of miles ridden was 17,062.

Finally, dollars: top fundraiser for 2018 was Palmer with $13,084.90 raised, followed by Tom Blackburn with $9,537.75. There were 50 riders who each raised $1,000 or more. Douglass brought in $5,930.16, and has now raised more than $100,000 over her 24 years of riding.

And the biggest number of them all, the one most celebrated: $190,000.14, the total amount pledged by the end of the ride. A number that is expected to grow to more than $200,000 in the weeks to come.

Numbers matter. They paint an impressive picture, but they don't tell the entire story. Especially in the case of the Agony Ride.

Charlie Cazin, Director of Operations, put it this way, "$190,000 … It's a number, right? But it translates to … a young person that has no hope in their life, that is saying, 'There is nobody to step up and stand in the gap for me, that will fight for me. There is nobody that loves me, because I am unlovable. There is nobody that will help me.' That number translates to that person being helped, that person finding hope, that person knowing Jesus … That money's a number, but it equates to lives being changed."

The money raised by the Agony Ride funds the operations of Christian Encounter Ministries, a residential program for 16-25 year-old men and women who come to receive counseling, schooling, spiritual guidance, and hope. As Cazin emphasized, the money raised translates directly to lives being changed.

The impact of the Agony Ride extends beyond even the dollars pledged; the event itself has a profound effect on its participants.

As riders and saggers reflected on their experience, many shared the ways that mutual struggle and sacrifice bind people together and reveal their need for each other. Others talked about the value of showing up and choosing to persevere through difficulty, while still others emphasized the love they felt during the ride.

"It's truly just God's love through (the riders)," said Kalani, a current Christian Encounter resident. "It means more than you guys will ever understand to (Christian Encounter residents) and it's just an amazing example of God's love to us and it impacts us and teaches us something through example that we learn about but we can never know until we see it."

To learn more about Christian Encounter Ministries, please visit http://www.christianencounter.org/.

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