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University of Central Missouri
Warrensburg, MO 64093
Contact: Jeff Murphy
WARRENSBURG, MO (June 10, 2011) – Overcoming heat, wind and even a small detour on a gravel road, a group of bicyclists that included University of Central Missouri President Charles Ambrose covered a 65-mile trek from Richmond to Warrensburg Wednesday, June 8 to call attention to poverty issues facing Missourians.
The ride was one leg of a 500-mile cross-state program, Cycling for Change, sponsored by Catholic Charities of Kansas City-Richmond, Inc. The seven-day ride began in Kansas City Saturday, June 4, and will end there this weekend after covering communities including Clinton and Harrisonville during the next two days.
President Ambrose, who participated one day of the event, joined a team of 14 cyclists who left Richmond at 8 a.m. Wednesday and arrived at the Johnson County Courthouse approximately seven and a half hours later. He accompanied the group back to UCM for a barbecue in honor of the participants. Ten of the riders made the entire trip.
Ambrose, who has a passion for bicycling and for helping others in need, said he was grateful for the opportunity to take part, and to join people, some of whom have given up a week of work, to be a part of this effort.
“Their focus today is on poverty and kids…We have a lot more needs in this community for children than some of us sometimes recognize. So this was a good opportunity to lift up some of those needs in the community,” Ambrose said. “It’ an awesome way to get the community engaged for specific targeted needs,” A
Kathleen Conwell, manager of communications and marketing for Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph, said efforts have taken place throughout Cycling for Change to collect non-perishable items to supply to local food pantries that can help all individuals in need. One of the objectives for team members is to help share the message-and-challenge of reducing the number of persons living below the poverty level by focusing on the four basic needs of every family: safe housing, health care, healthy nutrition and the means to a livable wage.
“If we pull businesses, community members, and faith-based organizations together, we can come up with solutions and reduce the number of people who are struggling for life,” Conwell said.
In Warrensburg, Catholic Charities works with other area agencies to assist with efforts that include helping people who are poverty-stricken and the homeless, aiding teenage women in crisis due to pregnancy, providing low-income housing for senior citizens, and mental health counseling.
“Last year we assisted 160,000 people in our geographic area. These are people of all backgrounds and faiths. Many people have the misconception that Catholic Charities only helps Catholics,” Conwell said.
In addition to Ambrose’s participation, UCM has a strong connection to Cycling for Change through alumni participants. Joining the president during the ride from Richmond were Jeremy Ruzich, Kansas City, ’06; Stephen Belt, St. Louis, ’88; and Barry Underwood, Excelsior Springs, who attended UCM 1984-85. Although she did not ride in the event, Therese (Gordon) Roseburrough, a Kansas Citian who graduated in 1983, was part of the Catholic Charities support team for the bicyclists. After leaving Richmond, riders traveled though the communities of Henrietta, Lexington, Higginsville, Corder, Alma, Concordia, and Knob Noster, before reaching Warrensburg.
The Rev. Steve Cook, a Catholic priest based in Kansas City who helped initiate the Cycling for Change event, and Michael Halterman, CEO of Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph, spoke during the barbecue on campus. The local Catholic Charities organization also presented a proclamation to Ambrose recognizing the president and the university’s support of the event.