[Monett Times] Fair ~ 70°F  
High: 72°F ~ Low: 55°F
Thursday, May 5, 2016

Bikers travel over 850 miles for Camp Barnabas

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Cyclists from the Greenwood Community Church in the Denver, Colo., area received cheers as they rode into Camp Barnabas on Monday, completing their 12-day ride. [Order this photo]
On Monday afternoon, cheers erupted at Camp Barnabas. Riding into the camp for handicapped and chronically ailing children were eight bicyclists, arriving after a 12-day, 850-plus-mile ride from Denver, Colo.

As the bikers wound their way around the lower level roads leading behind the camp mess hall, campers and volunteer staffers lined the roads, cheering and clapping, some exchanging "high fives" with the riders. When they stopped, the group was quickly surrounded and hugs exchanged.

The "Bike to Barnabas" trip had ended, part of ongoing enthusiastic support for the camp founded by Paul and Cyndy Teas that is presently in the midst of camp sessions.

Year-long plans by seven boys from the Greenwood Community Church in the Denver, Colo., area Camp Barnabas concluded with the presentation of a check for $22,040. Camp Barnabas founders Paul and Cyndy Teas, at right, showed their surprise at the boys' efforts. Participants in the effort were Spencer Knierim, Matt Plumpton, Andrew Martinek, Jack Jolliffe, Ryan Kinzie, Ryan Maxum and Kevin McGraw. The church youth leader who pedaled in with the boys was Tom Wanberg. [Times Photos by Murray Bishoff] [Order this photo]
This week around 150 campers with Down Syndrome or some degree of autism are enjoying the camping experience. Approximately 250 support staff for the campers and 100 camp staffers make up the camp's population.

Among the volunteers are 36 people, mostly youth, from the Greenwood Community Church in the Denver area. The church has sent volunteers to work at Camp Barnabas for 10 years. The "Bike to Barnabas" group included seven teenage boys, all of whom will be seniors in high school this fall, and their youth leader, Tom Wanberg.

Smokey Ridgley, volunteer leader with the church, who has come for all 10 years, said, "Camp Barnabas has opened up the eyes of our kids. In schools, often, the special needs kids are invisible. Our kids come here, they tell their friends, then they want to come. This is one of our passions."

"I love all their spirits," said youth volunteer Nicole Valiga, from the church. "They show the kind of love you can't get at home."

Five of the cyclists had attended Camp Barnabas, located southwest of Pulaskifield, as volunteers last summer. On their way home last year, Spencer Knierim decided he wanted to do something for the camp. He and Andrew Martinek and Kevin McGraw thought up the bike ride, combining it with an effort to raise funds for the camp's scholarship fund. Two others who had attended last summer and two more who had hoped to come but had to go on scheduled family trips instead got on board for the venture.

Most of the cyclists had their doubts the trip would actually happen until the final month when parents jumped in to help with logistics and all the plans fell in place. Some of the fathers rode part of the trip with the cyclists. A van plus a trailer to haul the bikes accompanied the cyclists.

The trip itself proved arduous. Several mentioned the weather, especially the wind, the ride across endlessly flat western Kansas and even the challenge of being with each other for so long, despite being best friends and being acquainted for over five years.

The excitement grew the closer they got to Missouri. The ride into camp was so invigorating one of the cyclists commented he did not want it to stop.

There was one final task: to present the check from their fundraising. The presentation was made to Paul and Cyndy Teas in front of a packed crowd in the mess hall. The Teas commented no one had ever made a cross country bike ride to Camp Barnabas, before so they had no idea what to expect.

Knierim said when the group began its efforts, their fundraising goal was $10,000. The number seemed small, he said, so they let God work. They tore the tape off the numbers on the oversized check they presented to reveal a final donation of $22,040.

The hall erupted in cheers and a chant of "Oooh," with arms raised in an arch over the heads of the campers, the symbol for a standing ovation.

According to Donna Robertson, storyteller for Camp Barnabas, the money will be used for the camp's scholarship fund. Sixty percent of campers receive partial scholarships, meaning the camp must raise around $300,000 in scholarships annually plus operational expenses.

"Donations like this help a great deal," Robertson said.

The cyclists will work the rest of the camp session with their fellow church volunteers and travel back to the Denver area together.

The fundraising effort fit in with this year's camp theme, "Believe in God." A banner displaying the acronym BIG flies across the driveway greeting all arrivals.

Campers will attend sessions at Camp Barnabas through Aug. 8. For more information about Camp Barnabas, call 417-476-2565.

Note: The nature of the Internet makes it impractical for our staff to review every comment. If you feel that a comment is offensive, please Login or Create an account first, and then you will be able to flag a comment as objectionable. Please also note that those who post comments on monett-times.com may do so using a screen name, which may or may not reflect a website user's actual name. Readers should be careful not to assign comments to real people who may have names similar to screen names. Refrain from obscenity in your comments, and to keep discussions civil, don't say anything in a way your grandmother would be ashamed to read.

Way to go TEAM!! Herculean efforts on the ride and fundraising. The bar has been set who will out do it next year?

-- Posted by sandersix on Mon, Jun 27, 2011, at 12:36 PM

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration:

© 2016 Monett Times, a division of Rust Publishing MOARCASS, L.L.C. All rights reserved.