WINONA LAKE – Call it pedal power with passion for a purpose.
That’s what the two dozen dedicated cyclists boasted who arrived on to the Grace College campus Friday afternoon.
The committed group completed the third day or its four-day jaunt with a stopover in Kosciusko County to spend the night at the Gordon Recreation Center.
The UD-ND Right to Life bicycle tour began Wednesday in Dayton and concludes its 237-mile trek Saturday at the University of Notre Dame.
The trek is all about raising funds and awareness for the right to life issue.
“The goal of this ride is to promote life, family and health and how can you miss with a bike ride,” said Paul Coudron, the Executive Director of the Life Resource Centre in Dayton, who is sponsoring the ride along with Dayton Right To Life.
Coudron, a former salesman, is passionate about this calling. The mission of his organization is to promote life through education and action.
“I’ve been blessed with the energy and the passion to do this,” said the 67-year old Coudron, the oldest biker on the tour. “I’m humbled that I was called to do this. I answered the call to do what I could to increase awareness.
“I’m selling life now,” added an emotional Coudron, who has been the head of the Life Resource Centre since 2011. “It’s about making a difference. It’s not about me. It’s about all these great people on this ride and those who are supporting us. It’s a team effort.”
The tour holds special meaning for a pair of cyclists with strong ties to the area.
Mark Weinstein, a former reporter with The Papers Incorporated, set up the stay at Grace College. Weinstein, currently the Executive Director of Public Relations at Cedarville University in Ohio, graduated from Grace in 1982. He also spent 15 months working at his alma mater.
“This was a no-brainer for us at Cedarville to be a part of,” said Weinstein, whose current employer is a Gold sponsor for the tour. “The cause is meaningful and worthwhile and something we believe in. We’re thankful we could do this.”
Weinstein admitted that the biking part has been challenging.
“It’s been challenging,” said Weinstein, whose group rode 69 miles Wednesday, most of it in heavy rain. “But, it’s been so much fun. It all goes back to the cause and how thankful I am to be part of a great group of people who all value life.”
“I give a lot of credit to Paul DeRenzo (the Director of Special Events at Grace College). He pulled it all together for us with Grace and has just been great to us.”
Weinstein planned to spend the night Friday with his brother Bryon, a long-time and highly-respected girls basketball coach at WCHS.
“It adds a lot to it for me with all my connections here,” Weinstein said. “It’s really meaningful to me. I know when we hit Pierceton today that I was looking forward to getting here. My adrenalin was flowing then and I just took off to the head of our pack of riders.”
Jay Kinsinger also has an extreme fondness for Kosciusko County. Kinsinger, a professor of engineering at Cedarville University, has a summer lake cottage on Dewart Lake and was married at Quaker Haven.
“My grandfather built that fishing cottage on Dewart in 1961 and I have great memories of visiting him,” said Kinsinger. “I get there 3-4 times a year and it’s always been a special place.”
Kinsinger, a University of Dayton graduate, was riding a wooden bike that he built himself. He had just returned on Sunday from a biking trip in Wyoming with a group called Second Mile Adventures out of Winona Lake.
“Mark told me about this tour and it was a good connection for me,” said Kinsinger. “We started the ride as strangers and we’ve become a tight group through the pain and the tears. It’s been amazing to be a part of and I’m really looking forward to arriving at Notre Dame on Saturday.”
For Sam Borchers, the chairman of the tour, it was a family affair.
“It’s a cause we believe in and our entire family has always been into biking,” said Borchers, who was making the ride with his wife and two of his children. “Paul is my neighbor and we cooked up the idea of tying biking and fundraising together.
“It’s about spreading the message of supporting life and helping out the Dayton Right to Life with its things like a baby pantry and parenting classes. We’ve met a lot of neat people on the ride and it’s going to be quite the sense of accomplishment on Saturday.”
Quite an accomplishment indeed by a group of passionate people with a lot of pedal power for a purpose.