Photo submitted by Brian Dexter

Members of a North Grenville family have just returned from what must be one of the most exciting summers ever. Karen Luimes, her son, Seth, and daughter, Eve, took part in the 2017 Sea to Sea Ride to raise money for organisations fighting poverty. Eve and Seth cycled from Vancouver to Ottawa, and they each raised around $6,500 in donations. Karen continued on past Ottawa, being one of just 50 cyclists to complete the journey all the way to Halifax, Nova Scotia, and raising over $12,000 along the way.

Photo submitted by Brian Dexter

Sea to Sea is a bicycling mission fighting poverty through fundraising and awareness. Poverty is a real, immediate problem. 800 million people live in extreme poverty in the world today and nearly half of the world is living on less than $2.50 per day. Sea to Sea is a response to global poverty, a mission of the Christian Reformed Church in Canada. The 2017 Ride raised $1,651,471, beating the goal of $1.5 million.

The project works with two other Christian groups, Partners Worldwide and World Renew, both of which use practical business methods, such as mentoring, micro-loans, and community development projects to, as they say, equip “people struggling with poverty to change their stories so that more communities can achieve enough food, good health, fruitful work, and greater peace and justice”.

Originally, Karen was going to do just part of the ride, encouraged by her sister-in-law, but things developed from there. When she asked Seth and Eve if they wanted to join her, they didn’t need much persuading: Eve thought it would be cool to see the country, and they were mightily impressed in the end by the sheer size of Canada. “Spectacular”, is how Karen described it. This was not a challenge the family undertook without a lot of planning and training. You don’t just hop on a bike and cycle thousands of kilometres without some preparation, and Karen and the two siblings spent much of the last year working on their stamina and fitness levels by biking to and from school every day. That would be around 60 kms daily.

In total, 135 riders took part for at least some of the sections, each of which averaged 160 kms per day. But Karen, Eve and Seth had more to do than just cycle. They had to take turns cooking and cleaning up, setting up their tent every night (yes, tents all the way!), and then get up in the morning, ready for the next 160 kms. This went on for 4,342 kms for Seth and Eve, and a full 6,759 kms for Karen, beginning on June 26 and ending when she rolled her bike wheel into the Atlantic on August 31.

Karen told the CBC in an interview after the end of the trip that, when she saw the Atlantic: “I was so excited, because it was the end of a long and exciting Summer”. The adventure was fully supported by friends and neighbours in North Grenville, and especially by the prayers and donations of their brothers and sisters in the Christian Reformed Church in Kemptville.

Seth is now heading into Grade 9 at St. Michael’s Catholic High School, while Eve is going into Grade 8 at the Ottawa Christian School. Karen and her husband, Glen, can now get back to normal family life with the other children and look back on a unique and productive summer’s adventure, a time of fellowship, hard work, and fun. And a contribution to ending poverty that cannot be underestimated.

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