Rick Friesen will set out next month on a 3,400-mile bike ride to raise money for a worldwide organization with little worry about a heart condition that caused a scare for him and his family.
Friesen is a former executive pastor at Abundant Life Church in Lee’s Summit. He stepped down a year ago after 14 years at the church to do “God’s work” with an organization called Manna Worldwide, a non-profit that addresses nutritional, educational and spiritual needs of children and their families.
He will join three others for a cross-country trip beginning Sept. 7 in Oceanside, Calif., and ending Oct. 25 near Richmond, Va.
“We’re going to dip our back tire in the (Pacific) Ocean and head off,” Friesen said.
The goal is to raise $100,000 to support Manna’s effort to feed poverty-stricken children in 40 countries. Project Snapshot, a Manna program in Mombasa, Kenya, will also benefit. Funds will help feed more than 600 kids a day at three K-12 schools and provide vocational training for residents of Mombasa.
Friesen, Manna’s director of Africa, said nearly $90,000 has already been pledged.
The trip will consist of roughly an 80- to 100-mile ride per day. Friesen and crew will have support from others traveling in vans and cars. Riders will stay overnight and rest in an RV donated for the cause.
A stop in Lee’s Summit is scheduled for Oct. 3 at Bike America, 32 SE Third Street. A rally is planned from 3 to 6 p.m. at the store. Bike America will also sponsor a contest to give away a free bike.
“With all that’s going on over there in Africa, it seemed like a pretty worthy cause,” said David Hunter, store manager for Bike America. “It’s takes a special kind of person to want to be able to do that. The results and the outcome and the mission should be enough reason and will to make it happen and make it work. I wish we could do more.”
A bicycle ride across the country is a feat for anyone. The addition of Freisen’s health issues could give some people pause, but don’t count Friesen among them.
“It’s a praise ride for me because about 11 years ago I was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, which is an enlarged heart,” Friesen said. “I was told by doctors that it would never reverse itself; I would have to have a heart transplant within five years.
“To make a long story short, it has reversed itself. Everything is back to normal. This has been on my bucket list for a long time, but when I got diagnosed with that, I thought that was out of the question. Now, I’m back to where I’m able to do it.”
Enlarged heart or not, it takes a huge one to venture cross-country for a cause.
For more information on Manna or the Coast to Coast Ride for Hunger, visit www.mannaworldwide.