Next week, a group of five youths will be biking 500 miles to raise support and awareness for the Paul Anderson Youth Home and one of them will be Trevor, 17, of Loganville. Trevor (his last name is protected due to privacy reasons) and the other four youths are current residents of the Paul Anderson Youth Home. They will be joined on this journey by other alumni and supporters of the home, which was founded by Olympic legend and “World’s Strongest Man” Paul Anderson. This is the 11th Annual Paul Anderson Bike Ride and this year it is in honor of the 50th anniversary of his winning of the Olympic gold medal in weight lifting in 1956.
The group will bike through the Georgia cities of Athens, Augusta, Dublin, Forsyth, Jonesboro, Macon, Millen, Peachtree City, Thomaston and Vidalia. Each year, this bike ride is used to spread the message of the transformative work the youth home does in troubled teens’ lives and its preventive work through counseling and resources for parents and families.
“Before arriving at the Paul Anderson Youth Home, these boys had hit rock bottom,” Matthew Hendley, VP of Advancement at the Paul Anderson Youth Home said in a press release. “The Bike Ride will be an opportunity for these young men to push themselves like they have never been pushed before.”
According to his bio, this journey for Trevor really began when he was 13 with the death of his father. He grew up in a Christian home, but the loss of his father at such a young age made him question God.
“That grew from him having doubts to him believing God wasn’t real and, eventually, Trevor hating God altogether. Trevor had generally behaved pretty well, but after his dad died, he coped by doing things that he knew were bad for him. It was a way to get back at God. Over time, things got so bad that he became isolated and would spend days alone. He often wouldn’t eat. He was indifferent toward life. After a while, he came to the realization that none of that was good for him and he should stop – not only for himself, but also for the people he cares about,” his bio states.
Although going to the youth home was not Trevor’s choice, he accepted it and made up his mind to take advantage of the opportunity.
“I’ve been here for 11 months,” he said. “A couple of things were wrong with family life. I wasn’t getting along with my stepdad and wasn’t listening to my mom. I was doing OK in school, but was not working to my full potential.”
Trevor said he did experiment a little with drugs, but had realized the mistake in that and stopped on his own before going to the Paul Anderson Youth Home. But his says it was the home that made a big difference.
“One of the bigger things is that it has made me a lot more mature. It has improved my work ethic and I’m able to handle bigger, adult situations much better than i would have before 17,” Trevor said, adding that he is looking forward to the ride next week. “We will do 500 miles in 5 days. We leave on Tuesday and return on Sunday evening. We will be sleeping in a few different place during the ride. Several churches along the way have been willing to extend places for us to sleep as well as some of the donors to the youth home.”
Trevor said he believes the riders will be passing through Walton County on July 22 during the leg of the journey that will take them from Athens to Jonesboro.
Supporters can contribute to the Paul Anderson Bike Ride by sponsoring Trevor or one of the other young men participating. This year’s $200,000 fundraising goal equals 9 percent of PAYH’s annual income and is one of three annual fundraising events for the not-for-profit organization. Supporters can hear each boy’s story and donate at payhbikeride.com.
“Our desire for this race is for every rider to realize his full potential in life,” said Hendley. “This bike ride is about so much more than pedaling a bicycle. It is about these young men overcoming obstacles in their lives so they can find hope for their future.”
Olympic Gold Medalist and World Champion Weightlifter Paul Anderson wowed audiences with the “Lift that Launched a Legacy” in 1961 and his feats of strength. PAYH continues his legacy by using physical challenges to instill work ethic into the boys’ everyday lives. The Bike Ride uses the same principles to transform the boys’ thinking while celebrating Anderson’s historic gold medal.
Live blogs, stories, and videos by the team will be posted along the way, and speaking engagements have been planned at various locations. You can follow the journey, meet the boys participating in the Bike Ride and learn about sponsoring a rider at payhbikeride.com or on Facebook and Twitter.
About Paul Anderson Youth Home Since 1961, the Paul Anderson Youth Home provides a sanctuary for troubled young men ages 16-20. Founded as an alternative to juvenile correctional facilities, the program helps young men overcome addiction and unhealthy lifestyle patterns by placing emphasis on physical work and play, rigorous academics, and restored relationships with God, their families, and society. Charity Navigator awarded the Paul Anderson Youth Home a 4-star rating for sound fiscal management and commitment to accountability and transparency, the home’s third 4-star rating in four years. The PAYH also equips families nationally to detect and respond to troubled behavior. To learn more about the PAYH and family resources, visit payh.org.