A group of 33 cyclists pedaled 280 miles across the island of Puerto Rico for three consecutive days as part of an initiative called Pedaling for Your Health. The annual event was hosted this year by Antillean Adventist University in Mayaguez.
Pedaling for Your Health is an initiative that has been running for 15 years. It was organized by Adventist pastors in western Puerto Rico to raise awareness for road safety and healthier living through the sport of cycling, as well as support worthy causes, said Myrna Colon, president of Antillean. “It is a great satisfaction for Antillean to join this event, which is part of [the] social commitment of our institution.”
“This event is not only held to promote health and connect us with nature, but also to impact the lives of others who are in need,” said Pastor Carlos Martínez, cyclist and member of the initiative’s organizing committee.
This year’s event raised funds for Heriberto Rivera, age 48, a former triathlete and Antillean student who was left paralyzed, bedridden, and unable to support his family after he was hit while cycling by a drunk driver in 2016. Before the accident, he worked as both a clinical social worker for the University of Puerto Rico in Mayaguez and a professor at Ana G. Mendez University. He has a 13-year-old daughter.
Cyclists gathered for prayer at the parking lot of the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s Headquarters in Mayaguez before beginning the first day of the event on July 24, which would take them 100 miles through 14 municipal districts along the southeastern coast of the island. The second day saw the group traveling through 14 more municipal districts to get to Levittown in San Juan, the capital city.
“It was a great challenge to complete our journey because of the distance and the heat, but everyone kept pedaling because they were all motivated for the good cause,” said Martínez. “The Rivera family is very appreciated by the church, and we chose to assist Heriberto this year again because of the pressing needs he has for his care.”
The fundraising event was picked up by radio, television, and print media on the island. The media invited viewers and listeners to donate to the needs of the Rivera family. Specifically, the family needs a special vehicle to take Heriberto to and from his weekly physical, speech, and occupational therapy sessions.
After the 280-mile journey, the cyclists went to visit Rivera in his parent’s home to spend time with him and pray.
A special account has been set up in Puerto Rico to assist Heriberto Rivera. To find out more about this cycling event, visit uaa.edu.