June 2011 Posts

Annual Raft Trip for Program Participants

Over the past 10 years, the Denver Rescue Mission has sent nearly 800 New Life Program participants to Buena Vista where they experience a four hour rafting trip on the Arkansas River.

The jolting movement, unforgiving rapids and constant loud noise of whitewater slamming against the inflatable raft seem minor compared to the stories behind the lives of the men and women that have recently joined the Denver Rescue Mission’s New Life Program.

Each year the Wilderness Aware Rafting Company donates two days where approximately 40 Denver Rescue Mission programs participants will attend each day and learn rafting skills on the Brown Canyon of the Arkansas River.

“The guides were helpful and we learned a lot, mostly how not to drown. It was nice to get out of our structured schedule for the day and do something new for a change. I took a lot of pictures, even the drive was beautiful” Abraham Wilson, Phase 2 program participant, said. “Everything about the trip was fun and the weather was great.”

One obstacle to overcome while in rehabilitation is the ability to set goals. Participants on the raft trip have set a big goal, to survive the rapids just as they can survive their addictions. The New Life Program is holistic, and whitewater rafting down Brown’s Canyon of the Arkansas River is great therapy for these men and women.

The New Life Program contains a total of five phases and provides a community-oriented environment for Denver Rescue Mission program participants to gain the skills, stability and self-esteem necessary to become productive, self-sufficient members of society.

“We all had a very good time. It was the first time some of guides had a live group in their rafts and they did great.” New Life Program Phase 1 participant Rick Brown said “We were witness to God’s creation in all the beautiful scenery and I feel lucky to have been a part of it.”

Just a couple of months ago, some of these men and women were living on the streets in a world of addiction. Now they are on exciting whitewater rapids known as Pinball and Zoom-Flume.

“I took everything I have learned while in the program and applied to this rafting trip. It was a powerful experience, the water was cold, the cliffs were high and the people were informative and friendly. I think we joked the entire time,” said Sage Enos in Phase 1.

WE MADE IT!

After nine days of riding over 475 miles, Biking Cross Kansas (BAK) is over! My son Gus and I arrived at the Missouri state line, took our photo (I wish it had been a bigger sign!) and rode back to the celebration area where my wife, Cary picked us up bound for Denver! The ride from a fundraising standpoint was wildly successful! Final numbers are still being calculated, but as of today, June 13 we were able to exceed our goal of 10,000 meals raising the money to provide 10,159 meals for the homeless and needy. The cost of serving one meal is $1.92, which makes the total $19,505.28!

At the Missouri state line.

I just want to take this opportunity to say thank you! I cannot tell you how much I appreciate the financial support raised for the Denver Rescue Mission. Knowing that you were there supporting me in this ride was such an encouragement. Friends of the Mission not only supported me with prayer and financial gifts, but with a kind word, a special email or just “checking in” on me. For those of you who have been reading my blog and praying for me, thank you! We certainly felt protected and looked after. With only one flat tire and no mishaps resulting in bodily damage, we felt blessed!

Gus and I rode across Kansas!

I would like to also thank the BAK organizers, who have been doing this for 35 years. What a great job you did! Thank you! You know how to put together a ride! Thank you to the great people of Kansas, especially those in the small towns who treated us with wonderful hospitality!

A special thank you to the other riders whom Gus and I formed a pace line with at various times; this helped us complete each day faster. These individuals include Scott, Albert, Bruce, Jan, Rick, Brad, Lorrie, Todd, Terry, and anyone else I missed or may have drafted off of!

Thank you to all my staff and especially Alexxa, Zsuzsanna, Chris, Griff, Greta, Mary, and Kadija for making the logistics run so smoothly. This event was not a one man show, it took a team to put this together.

Lastly, thank you Gus for being willing to spend nine days with your dad as we rode all the way across Kansas. I am sure most 27-year-olds have other things they would rather be doing than sleeping in a hot two-man tent with their dad, pulling me up hills and through headwinds or sitting in small town libraries while I blogged. Thanks to your daily support, we were able to do something for a cause bigger than ourselves, something that will change people’s lives forever at the Mission. The thing I will remember the most about this ride is the great gift of your time, joining me in this adventure!

For those of you reading, I hope this adventure has been an inspiration to do something for someone who can do nothing for you. It does not have to be a ride across Kansas, just a kind word or encouragement to someone. We all so desperately need this. I am reminded of the words of Jesus when He said, “This is my commandment to you, that you love one another even as I have loved you.” John 15:12.

Thank you and God Bless!

End in Sight

If you have continued to read my “Where in Kansas is Brad?” daily blogs for the last eight days, thank you. I hope you have found my journey with my son Gus and 900 of our closest friends an interesting one. Today, I am in Garnett, Kansas having ridden through some rain and on milled roads for a time. I did not know what a milled road was until yesterday and I do not think I have ever ridden on one before. For those of you who do not know, a milled road is one that is being repaired with grooves have been cut before the asphalt goes down on top of it. Basically it causes a vibration that moves through your entire body making it hard to see clearly!

One of the riders we were with said something as we were passing him on the milled road that stuck with me. Undaunted by the vibrating, he said “You just ride the road as it comes.” I think this may be one of the great lessons I learned on this ride, to take the road of life as it comes. Sometimes you get headwinds, crosswinds, heat, rain, or milled roads. Sometimes you have beautiful sunrises, tailwinds, smooth roads with wide shoulders, fast down hill stretches, and awesome people along the journey! But however the road might be, you just keep pedaling, riding the road as it comes.

This has been a long bike ride. Not only has it been physically challenging, but mentally and sometimes emotionally draining as well. I know that this physical adventure cannot compare to the life change that our New Life Program participants go through as they try to find freedom in Christ from their addictions. To these men and women, your efforts inspire me, your sacrifice, like this short sacrifice of mine, is worth it. God loves you and has a plan for your life. Keep pedaling forward!

One last day to complete the bike ride from Colorado to Missouri! As my grandson, Max said on his first day of 1st grade, “Let’s do this!”

Thank you for your financial support, we have almost reached our goal! Your support for me is making a difference in the lives of the poor!

God bless!

There’s No Place Like Home

After a 62 mile ride, we are in Burlington, Kansas not Burlington, Colorado! The city’s motto is, “There is no place like home.” They couldn’t be more right! After seven days of riding, we’ve covered 386 miles. I am just a couple days from completing this ride and going home. It has been an experience!

Burlington High School is incredible! It looks like a small college campus. I showered in the junior high locker room which was nicer than the one at my college at Northern Arizona University! Apparently this is one of the wealthiest school districts in the state due primarily to the nuclear power plant located outside the city. We will ride by it tomorrow. I am anxious to see it.

Like many other days, Gus and I rode in a pace line today. A pace line is a group of riders who commit to riding together and take turns being in front “pulling” the group as well as being in the back or middle of the group being pulled along. Because of this commitment to each other, this sense of community, you can ride a lot faster than if you are alone. In particular, when you are riding into a head wind, this is very helpful. If you were to try and fight the head wind by yourself, leaving the others, you could not go as fast. Frankly, you would struggle with your head down, wishing you had not left the group.

Another beautiful sunrise on the road across Kansas!


At the Denver Rescue Mission, we believe healthy community is essential to helping our New Life Program participants change their lives. In the same way that a pace line pulls you along, our community at The Crossing, at Champa House or at Harvest Farm lifts up our participants. The men and women who have been around the longest encourage those who are struggling because they understand the impact community makes. They have gone through the same challenges, working toward a life free from drugs and alcohol. They do a great job saying, “You can do it!” It is heart warming when you see this happen.

Just like a pace line is only as fast as your slowest rider, your community is only as strong as your weakest community members. How we pull and uplift those who are struggling, the poor, the needy and the homeless reflects on who we are as a community and as people. Thank you Denver, for caring so much!

A special shout out to Cary, my wife of 33 years, who not only puts up with my crazy ideas but is willing to drive to Kansas and pick us up!

Riding on to Garnett tomorrow! God bless!

Persevering for a Purpose

After a hot 64 miles, and yes, still windy ride, Biking Across Kansas has taken us to Cottonwood Falls. For those of you praying for a tail wind, thank you! We are almost there on the wind. We felt a 20-30 mphcrosswind blowing from the south, far better than a head wind! I’m so glad it is not raining!

I think one of the toughest things about this ride is the length! Each day we get up, pack up our tent and clothes and head out by about 6 a.m. Usually we eat a quick breakfast of an energy bar or maybe a banana. Each day, besides thinking about what is sore, I am excited to be on my bike, knock out another day, and get closer to my goal of finishing a 475 mile ride.

I believe this is how our participants feel in our New Life Program. Each day of the 13-27 months men and women are in the program, they have another day of sobriety and grow one step closer to graduating. Like my son Gus and I, they know each day will bring new challenges. Whether it’s is wind, hills (yes, hills!), heat, soreness, mental or physical fatigue, we have to press on to finish. And finish we will! This is my encouragement to our New Life Program participants, “finish the program, do not stop.” In the words of Winston Churchill, “Never, never, never give up, never ever.” Even if you are not in the New Life Program, this is good advice for all of us! I’m trying to live that out right now!

The other thing that has impressed me is the culture of the BAK among the other 900 riders as well as our supporters. I cannot imagine a group of more encouraging and supportive people for a multi-day athletic event. There is never a shortage of people to unload a truck filled with tents, ride along side of you and tell you if a car is coming or say “good job” after you completed a “pull” in a pace line. There really is something to be said for kind Midwest people, but since my roots are in the Midwest, I would be saying that about myself! But the fact that these folks are as tired as I am and are still so encouraging is a inspiration to me.

Speaking of inspiration, thank you for praying for me and for your financial gifts. Your commitment helps me “get after it” every morning! On to Burlington, Kansas tomorrow, over 62 miles!

Riding on! God bless!