PLATTSBURGH — Twenty New Jersey cyclists rode through the North Country to raise funds to build a medical clinic in West Africa.
As of Saturday, the all-volunteer Freedom Riders had raised more than $42,000 through the donations of family, friends and others who have heard of its cause.
The participants, who range in age from 16 to 63, rode with a 15-member support-and-gear team from Zarephath, N.J., to North Hero, Vt., where they began their journey home Sunday. Overnight Saturday, they stayed at Cumberland Bay State in Plattsburgh.
By this Saturday, they will have ridden 535 miles back to Zarephath, where most of them attend the nondenominational Zarephath Christian Church.
The mission got its name about five years ago, when three cyclists rode through England raising money to buy freedom for enslaved women and children in India. Those rescued from slavery were taught a trade like sewing so they could become financially independent, rider Steve Butwill said.
The riders and support staff pick a different Freedom Ride route each year, and Butwill said riding through the Adirondacks has been on their “wish list.”
The group members embrace the outdoor culture that they have noticed is popular in the Adirondacks and northern New York, and they were enjoying themselves, Buthill said.
Projects in past years included raising money to purchase an orphanage to house children suffering from AIDS in Kamam, India, and for the Urban Impact program.
One hundred percent of the donations go to the mission, Butwill said.
Participants use their own money for all travel costs.
Urban Impact is a week-long residential camp program for boys and girls ages 9 through 12 years old. The aim, through daily experiences in music, dance, theater, sports, Bible study and academic tutoring, is to empower them and give them the confidence to chase their dreams.