The Church of God in Ridgewood became a source of encouragement for the families and cyclists riding for autism awareness and education at the sixth annual “Go the Distance for Autism” cycling event on May 31, 2015. Church of God volunteers went the extra mile to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere at North New Jersey’s largest charity autism cycling event, which took place at Bergen Community College in Paramus.

Despite an early 5 a.m. arrival to set up, Church of God volunteers showed great enthusiasm, which impressed the event organizers. Then, with bright smiles, volunteers warmly greeted participants as they arrived. They also helped with parking, registration, and even helped serve food and beverages. But, what captivated people the most was the volunteers’ cheering.

“We’re here to cheer, we’re here to win, so push that bike until the end!”

This was one of the motivating cheers heard at each checkpoint where riders could take a short break or grab a refreshment.

Some Church volunteers even wore themed costumes. One volunteer, in particular, sported a renaissance outfit and a plastic light saber while yelling, “We are proud of you, we are proud of you!” Cyclists couldn’t help but chuckle as they passed by.

“It takes a huge effort to put on this event,” said Chantelle Walker, director of development for Alpine Learning Group. “We have never had a volunteer effort like this Church group. We’re stunned. We really are completely stunned about how wonderful they are.”

Alpine Learning Group was one of four behavioral and educational autism programs that benefitted from the funds raised. Walker had nothing but positive remarks about the Church of God’s volunteer service to support Alpine Learning Group and the entire autism awareness community.

“I can tell that you all live out your mission,” Walker said to the Church of God volunteers. “I’ve had comments from people here today that they feel a different feeling than in years past. They felt welcomed and appreciated and supported so I just want to say thank you for all of that.”

The cyclists pushed themselves to complete the circuit from start to finish, remembering the cause they were riding for. In the same way, the Church of God volunteers from Ridgewood were present from the beginning to the end of the event to share love and inspire families of autistic individuals. The heartfelt concern of the Church of God members allowed families to feel comforted throughout the entire day.

Church of God in Ridgewood, Go the Distance for Autism 2015