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Friday, July 1, 2016

Completing the cycle

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Six young men from the Paul Anderson Youth Home rode through Shelbyville last week as part of a 1,500 mile cycling tour from Vidalia, Ga., to Omaha, Neb.
(Submitted photo)
This week six young men from the Paul Anderson Youth Home rode through Shelbyville as part of their quest to complete a 1,500 mile bicycling tour.

The ride commemorates one made by founder Paul Anderson 50 years ago to promote the establishment of the youth home that bears his name.
(Submitted photo)
The ride commemorates one made 50 years ago by Olympic gold medalist, world champion weightlifter and Guinness Book of World Records holder Paul Anderson, who biked from Vidalia, Ga. to Father Flanagan's Boys Town in Omaha, Neb. to raise awareness -- and funding -- for his vision: providing an alternative to jail time for young men, and a resource to nurture and encourage their families as well.

Along the way, he met Truett Cathy, founder and chairman of Chick-fil-A, who told Anderson he looked like an elephant on a bicycle. Cathy became the foundation's first contributor, and a life-long friend.

A half-century later, Anderson's program is still working. He not only built alternative homes for otherwise incarcerated young men, but that very first home in Vidalia, Ga., continues to shape and launch young men back into society with 90 percent of graduates never seeing the inside of a jail cell again.

The six young men -- Chad, Dustin, Mac, Nathaniel, Reef and Sam -- began their journey on July 12 and expect to reach Omaha on July 29.

Finishing the cross-country journey is just one of their goals. They hope to make parents more aware of the struggles they face every day through a campaign called FamilyStrong, which challenges parents to "make parent a verb."

"This ride will be a test of strength and yet, a true honor. The young men who participate in this feat will never forget the moment that they reach Omaha," said Drew Read, chief operating officer of Paul Anderson Ministries. "As they follow the path of a man who has changed their lives forever and the lives of thousands of others, they will learn perseverance, discipline, teamwork and endurance."

Through the research compiled at Paul Anderson Ministries, the PAYH staff is able to follow the dangerous trends on the horizon for today's youth and young adults. The website http://www.familystrong.com cites frightening statistics: Children spend an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes using some form of media daily; 90,000 juveniles are arrested each day; 50 percent of all sexually active youth will have an STD by the age of 25. These trends, including drug use and addiction, pornography, rage, violence, sex and relationships, have created a generation that is crying out for parents who know the importance of making parent a verb.

Learn More

For more information on Paul Anderson Ministries or the Paul Anderson Youth Home, go to http://www.payh.org.

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