Bike-a-Thon raises funds for fitness, education programs

Peter Silas Pasqua
Bicycle riders roll down Railroad Avenue during Hope Youth Development Inc. first annual bike-a-thon fundraiser Saturday morning.

"I am trying to lose a couple of inches," Rita Joseph said Saturday morning before Hope Youth Development Inc. first annual bike-a-thon.

Joseph said she enjoys riding her bike early in the morning.

Not far from Joseph, Lester Daggs was pumping air into his sons' bicycles for the trip.

"We ride bikes. We walk. We play soccer," Daggs' wife Michelle said. "Anything for fitness."

Daggs said the family usually walks in the morning.

"We are just staying in shape," Daggs said.

Deborah Stewart asked five-year-old Christopher Lewis, who has been riding for two years, if he was up to the ride from Williams Southall Funeral home to Crescent Park.

"We got a long way to ride but if it is smooth, we should get there in no time," Stewart said.

City Councilman Charles Brown and his son C.J. rode their bikes to the start of the bike-a-thon.

"I need some air," Brown said. "I got my Florida brim on. It is hot today."

Sporting the brimmed hat, Brown and Mayor Leroy Sullivan asked where they got their bikes.

"That is the real deal," Brown said. "That isn't a K-Mart."

Sullivan sported a cruiser with whitewall tires and explained he has been an avid rider since the morning.

"We call these milk trucks," Sullivan said. "I rode from my house to here."

Sullivan said as a youngster he cruised on a stingray.

"Hopefully, I can make it," Sullivan said. "We are here to support the youth by letting them know they can participate in other sports for physical fitness besides football or basketball."

Hope Youth Development Inc. director Mark Peters told bikers to drink plenty of water before they leave and make sure they have enough air in their tires.

"We want to promote fitness, fun and family at the same time," Peters said. "Everything we do, we want to involve kids and their parents."

Hope Youth Development Inc. works to give kids hope through non-traditional sports through physical fitness and education, according to Peters.

"We have a high rate of obesity in Louisiana and fitness is something we need to focus on whether we are a child or an adult," Peters said. 

City Councilman Charles Brown in his Florida brim adds air to his tires as Mayor Leroy Sullivan and Deborah Stewart look on.