By Allen Howard
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Fifty bicyclists on a coast-to-coast ride to raise awareness about poverty pedaled through Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky Thursday and heard some statistics about Tristate poverty: 85,319 people living below the federal guidelines for poverty, including 33,638 children.
According to the 2000 census, the Tristate's 13-county region had a poverty rate of 9.7 percent.
The Brake the Cycle of Poverty Tour, sponsored by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, (CCHD) stopped for a prayer at the World Peace Bell in Newport.
Sister Ruth Kettman, of the Covington Diocese's Justice & Peace Office, said the bike riders represent a solidarity of love.
"We pray to create attention to the problem of poverty," she said.
Bicyclists from around the country who started the tour in San Francisco on June 1 were joined by bikers from Cincinnati and Louisville. They wore T-shirts carrying the message: "Poverty U.S.A, America's forgotten state, population 33 million."
The tour ends Aug. 1 in Washington, D.C.
One of the oldest among the bicyclists was Jeffrey Gros, 65, a teacher for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington, D.C. He joined the group in Kansas City while on vacation.
He thinks by reaching out to rich and poor and making them aware, they are creating a chance to break the cycle of poverty.
"This is not about giving handouts. It is about helping people to understand poverty and understand what they can do to help,'' Gros said.
He is impressed with the mission of creating local groups and organizations that band together to create awareness of health issues, crime, unemployment and education.
"In the 1970s, we worked with a group in Memphis to set up a poor people's health clinic. We helped to close down a crack house in St. Louis," Gros said.
A young biker, Kevin Graves, 20, started with the group in San Francisco. He is a sophomore at Lynchburg College in Virginia.
"This has been a great chance for me to think of ways to help change things when I get back to college," Graves said.
He said he is physically prepared for the tour because he is a cross-country runner.
"We have been averaging about 70 miles a day. Most of the time the weather has been good," Graves said.
Biker Jack Looby, who teaches in the chastity education program for Catholic Social Services, and Don Burrell, of the Bike Pedestrian Coalition, were among the local bikers who joined the tour through Cincinnati.
"We will do about 20 miles," Looby said.
After the ceremony at the Peace Bell, the bikers crossed the Purple People Bridge for a snack at Sawyer Point. They had lunch at Washington Park in Over-the-Rhine, and listened to a performance by the Bucket Boys and Buckettes.
Cincinnati Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk spoke to the group at Xavier University's Cintas Center Thursday night.
CCHD was established in 1969. Last year, it awarded $257,000 in grants to 21 agencies in the archdiocese.
TOP LOCAL STORIES
Council approves Convergys deal
Dog returned for $10,000 reward
Lead found in more soil
County fairs grow beyond their roots
Wetland working, designer says
MAGGIE DOWNS COLUMN
If blondes have more fun, why did I feel like a freak?
Schott seat suit settled
Two busts crimp drug trade
Blue Ash seeks spending ideas
Council member dead at age 33
Kids get to see Reds game, owner's treat
Bus driver charged in fatal crash
Tax breaks OK'd for complex
Montgomery Road plan goes forward
AROUND THE TRISTATE
Tristate A.M. Report
Cyclists aim to break poverty cycle
Trail how-to promotes mountain biking
Good News: Program aims to cut crime
Obituary: Carl Wittekind was flier in three wars
Prison no bar to Traficant bid for president
Ohio Moments: Soldiers fined 50 cents for lack of weaponry
CROWLEY: 'Lifestyle mall' proposals proliferate
Sketch released of suspect in assault
Mistrial declared in professor's libel suit
Proposed bus fare hike debated
Reservists come home today
Come and meet Enquirer folks
Around the commonwealth
Fletcher OK's one debate with Chandler
Lexington, UK share traffic tab
Pregnant woman killed by hit-skip van
Sex offender sentenced to 15 years
Dad charged in death has record of abuse
Help offered for abandoned baby