Mid-Life Cycling

Mid-Life Cycling

09 July 2018

A Ride That Leaves Nobody Behind

People have gone on bicycle rides to support all kinds of causes,from veterans' affairs to peace, from liberating people to conquering diseases, and everything in between.  I've participated in a few myself.  The great thing is that most cyclists ride for causes I support.

That includes Gennadiy Mokhnenko.  He's a pastor who directs the Pilgrim Republic Children's Home in his native Ukraine.  Its focus is on orphans and other "vulnerable children"--of which the Ukraine, like many other countries experiencing upheval and poverty, has many.

In fact, one of those children became one of 32 childen Mohnenko and his wife, Lena, have adopted.  Andrey Dudin was the first of them, in 1999, when he was 12 years old.  He'd been homeless for six years when the Mohnenkos took him in.  Now he is accompanying Gennaidy on the US leg of his World Without Orphans bicycle tour, which began in 2011.

They ride every summer and the US leg of their ride is being supported by Serving Orphans Worldwide, a nonprofit organization based in Bristol, Tennessee.  Its work complements that of the Pilgrim Republic Children's Home, in that it rescues, trains and supports struggling childrens' homes worldwide.  Both organizations want to dispel some of the myths about adoptive children:  namely, that they can't be loved as much as biological children and that if their biological parents were addicted to drugs or alcohol, they will end up the same way.  "It's a stupid idea," says Mokhnenko.  He uses himself as an example:  "I grew up in an alcohol addicted family and I'm a pastor of 27 years."

As of this writing, he, his adoptive son and other cyclists are riding through Tennessee. They began this part of the tour in Los Angeles in May and will end in about three weeks, he says, when they reach Miami, Florida after "pedaling 60 to 80 miles a day."

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