Biking for Babies team spreads pro-life mission and joy in ride through diocese

Members of the Biking for Babies "Northern Missionaries" team pose July 11 outside St. Joseph Newman Center at Bradley University in Peoria during an overnight stop on their ride from Green Bay to St. Louis. The previous night, the riders stopped in Ottawa, attending Mass at St. Patrick Church and sharing their mission at a potluck dinner. (The Catholic Post/Tom Dermody)

After 13 flat tires, two spills, a series of 4:15 a.m. wake-up calls, and four days of riding 100 miles — including one day in weather that felt like more than 100 degrees — why were members of a Biking for Babies team that passed through the Diocese of Peoria last week smiling?

“It’s been an awesome experience so far,” explained Aleece Duggan, a senior nursing major at Bradley University in Peoria who was taking part in her first ride to raise awareness of and funds for pregnancy resource centers.

First-year rider Aleece Duggan will be a senior at Bradley University in Peoria this fall. (The Catholic Post/Tom Dermody)

“We all have a lot of fun when we’re on the bikes,” said Duggan during a July 11 stop with eight other young adult riders and three support team members at the familiar surroundings of the St. Joseph Newman Center on Bradley’s campus. “Although you’re going through some pain and suffering, you offer it up to God and just keep going and have that joy about it.”

The riders — members of the national ride’s “Northern Missionaries” team — shared that joy, their mission, and times of prayer during overnight stops in both Ottawa and Peoria as they made a six-day trek from Green Bay, Wisconsin, to St. Louis, Missouri.  There they met up with three other Biking for Babies teams that had taken routes from the south, west, and east for a Celebration of Life last Saturday.

PUTTING WORDS INTO ACTION

It has been 10 years since Biking for Babies was founded by two University of Illinois students, Mike Schaefer and Jimmy Becker, to make supporting the pro-life movement more accessible to young people.

Though she was not a biking enthusiast before, Duggan knew she wanted to be a part of the mission when a team of riders stopped at the Newman Center at Bradley a year ago.

“I really loved the message they were giving,” she told The Catholic Post, “and knowing this is not only going to help all of the unborn children but also the mothers, too.” So Duggan began training on a stationary bike and later bought a bicycle of her own.

”Being able to put my words into actions is a big thing for me,” continued Duggan, a member of St. Raphael Cathedral Parish in Dubuque, Iowa, who hopes to work as a labor and delivery nurse. “For some people it’s not enough to say you’re pro-life,” she added, “it’s more about doing something about it.”

She and the other bikers are not only fueled by the importance of their mission and the hospitality of those who host them along the way, but by daily prayer. At St. Patrick Church in Ottawa, after their most difficult day of riding, they took part in a Mass followed by an “absolutely amazing potluck” where they shared their experiences.

The next day in Peoria, the riders and their support team visited the tomb of Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen at St. Mary’s Cathedral and joined in a Mass there. They later prayed for a half-hour before the Blessed Sacrament in the chapel of the Newman Center and shared a meal with a small gathering of supporters.

“It’s so cool see how many people are inspired by the work we are doing,” said Duggan, whether at the overnight stops or at gas stations or restaurants along the way when their visits invite questions. “A lot of people are very responsive and want to be able to help whatever way they can.”

Those wishing to support the riders or learn more about their mission are invited to visit bikingforbabies.com. The group can also be found on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

 

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