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Bike ride aims to aid youth home
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Jonathon Hall of Vidalia finishes up lunch before riding in the fourth annual Paul Anderson Cycling Challenge, which benefits the Paul Anderson Youth Home, a Christian alternative to prison for young men 16-21 years old. Hall and the other riders planned to bike about 79 miles Sunday and will complete the entire ride 560 miles later in Vidalia. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

Cyclists from the fourth annual Paul Anderson Cycling Challenge trekked their way through Gainesville on Sunday morning.

The 500-mile bike ride, which started Friday in Atlanta, will pass through Rome, Athens and Savannah, and eventually come to a close Thursday in Vidalia.

Paul Anderson, a 1956 Olympic gold medalist, started the Paul Anderson Youth Home in Vidalia in 1961. The home is a Christian alternative to juvenile and adult correctional facilities for young men between the ages of 16 and 21. The program has aided in the lives of more than 1,000 adolescents and their families.

Throughout the rehabilitation process at the Paul Anderson Youth Home, young men are able to get involved in events such as the cycling challenge.

Drew Read, who has been working with the youth home for 15 years, said that the ride helps encourage the young men physically, emotionally, socially and spirituality while they're on the trip so they can see that they can do anything that they set their minds to.

"It gives them exposure, it gets them interacting with other people, and it gives them an opportunity to see what they can do," Read said.

The cycling challenge is also used as a fundraiser to help benefit the Paul Anderson Youth Home. The goal this year is to raise $85,000.

People can sponsor the riders by visiting Paul Anderson Cycling Challenge.

Read said that by visiting the Web site people can follow the bikers and even sign up to win a free bike.

"We are always posting live videos and blogs all throughout the day, and we have a live GPS where people can track us in real time," Read said.

Read said that he loves watching the guys finish the challenge.

"It is the best part of the event, to see them accomplish what they've set their minds to," he said.

Cyclist Tripp Henley is a 21-year-old originally from Montgomery, Ala.

He said he opted to participate in the challenge because he wanted to push himself and raise money for the youth home.

"I wanted to be able to get out and see God's creation and just have a good time with my other brothers," Henley said.

Henley trained for about two months for the event, and he said that he has had fun participating. Henley said he has especially enjoyed hanging out with the other guys and the camaraderie.

"I think it is good for you physically and mentally to be able to push yourself," said Henley, who said he would participate in the cycling challenge again.

Phil Loveless of Gainesville was participating in the cycling challenge for fun. Loveless is connected to the Paul Anderson Youth Home because his son, Kyle, was once a resident.

Kyle, who is now 27 years old, is married, has two little girls, and not only has his degree in accounting, but is also working on his master's degree.

Loveless said that when Kyle went to the Paul Anderson Youth Home he went through a "total transformation."

"He uses his learning from Paul Anderson Youth Home with his employees," Loveless said. "I think everything that he has done you can point back to something that he learned at Paul Anderson."

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