Rick looked at Lauren. They were enjoying their spontaneous conversation in the church parking lot, discovering similar interests and experiences. Rick knew he didn’t want the conversation to end.

“Do you want to ride together sometime?” he asked, inviting her on a cycling adventure.

Lauren cocked her head, regarding him. “Where would we go?” she responded.

For over ten years, her question has been answered with one cycling adventure after another. Rick and Lauren Wiegel together have taken on cycling routes all over the world. In the autumn of 2016, they took on a different kind of route altogether.

“I first heard about 25,000 Spins in an email from ADRA International,” explained Rick. The fundraising event invited participants to tackle Big Sur, a stretch of desert mountains on the rocky Pacific coast in California. While tackling the terrain, the cyclists would also tackle the issue of child poverty by raising money for their ride.

Rick and Lauren were immediately intrigued. They learned from ADRA International that the money raised would go towards a school in Lebanon for Syrian refugee children.

Adventure with a Purpose, ADRA Canada

Adventure with a Purpose, ADRA Canada

“We resonated with the project because we’ve worked with refugees getting established in Canada,” said Rick. “I liked the idea of helping refugees in Lebanon, especially the kids.”

Rick and Lauren signed on for the adventure.

“Every summer we love to do something epic,” said Lauren. “This ride seemed to be more meaningful. It brought a purpose to our ride.”

“We’re great ADRA fans. You know the quote, ‘Preach the gospel, and if necessary, use words.’ Helping others is a part of our faith. We’re to be the hands and feet of Jesus,” shared Rick. “This ride down Big Sur was a combination of our love for ADRA and cycling.”

The ride itself was nothing short of epic. A gruelling 240 kilometres in length, it hugged the mountainous coastline, casting the cyclists up one hill then down, then up again. On the second day alone, they rode over 100 kilometres, climbing more than 7,000 feet in elevation.

“It was 100˚ Fahrenheit, with not a breath of wind,” Lauren shook her head.

“But everyone was in good spirits,” countered Rick. “We really had a great time. The scenery was breathtaking. In spite of the heat, it was beautiful.”

Adventure with a Purpose, ADRA Canada

Adventure with a Purpose, ADRA Canada

The group that Rick and Lauren rode with reached their fundraising goal. This amount was enough to enable the school in Lebanon to continue to meet the needs of the children.

“It makes us feel awesome to be a part of it,” Rick said. For Rick and Lauren, it’s clear that it isn’t about reaching a monetary goal. It’s about lives being changed for the better.

“I received a story of one of the children that was helped by our project. He had been out of school for two years, working in a pet shop. He had scars on his arms and face from handling the different pets. ADRA’s school gave him a chance to return to school.” Ricked smiled.

After reflecting that perhaps their contribution was but a drop in the proverbial bucket, Lauren said with a smile, “I love the starfish story.”

In this story, a man is walking down a beach after a storm. The beach is littered with stranded starfish. He’s overwhelmed by the number of creatures in distress. Then he sees another man picking up one starfish at a time and tossing it back into the ocean. Though he couldn’t save all the starfish, he did what he could do, one at a time.

“It’s a small project but I’m happy and grateful we could do it,” said Lauren. “We’re picking up a starfish and throwing it back.”