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LEPOCO ride/walk set for Oct. 15

The wheels are turning for the Bike/Walk-a-Thon sponsored by the Lehigh-Pocono Committee of Concern (LEPOCO) to grow funds for its continuing work for peace and justice. The event is scheduled for Oct. 15, beginning at Rosemont Lutheran Church, where LEPOCO’s offices are housed in the church basement.

The local peace group has worked locally since 1965 to build a just society and a peaceful world through nonviolent action.

“We hope to break last year’s record amount of more than $3,000 in pledges,” said Diane Dilendik, convener of the planning committee.

The event, first held in 1979, will kick off at Rosemont at 1705 W. Broad St., where the LEPOCO Peace Center moved its offices in June 2020 in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Participants will gather on the front lawn beginning at 8:30 a.m. for a light breakfast, bike safety check, and registration and body warm-up. Participants will leave promptly at 9 a.m.to walk 4.5 – 6.5 miles or bike 23 miles.

Participants will ask co-workers, friends and family to sponsor them for a dollar-per-mile amount or a flat fee. For those not able to collect pledges, a minimum $10 self-pledge is suggested.

When participants complete their route, pledges will be collected and go to LEPOCO to help support its work. The event will wrap-up at Rosemont by about noon.

Nancy Tate and Amanda Zaniesienko are LEPOCO coordinators. Joining them in bringing the event to fruition on the planning committee are Dilendik; Scott Slingerland, director of CAT – Coalition for Appropriate Transportation, who mapped out the bike route; and Walt Garvin.

Walkers will start at Rosemont and walk through lovely West Side neighborhoods to the towpath and back on the SouthSide Greenway. A shuttle back to the church will be available from the parking lot near the tennis courts on Sand Island. If walkers take the shuttle, the route will be 4.5 miles, or 6.5 miles if they walk back to the church.

For bikers, the route is a blend of neighborhood streets and multi-use trails that highlights how to peacefully connect the LEPOCO Peace Center to Bethlehem’s SouthSide Greenway Trail and the Saucon Rail Trail in Hellertown to the turn-around at Upper Saucon Township Community Park. This route is 59 percent on paved/gravel trails, 19 percent on quiet rural roads, 17 percent on neighborhood streets and 10 percent on urban connector roads. Instead of going over the mountain, bikers will be going around it.

Slingerland mapped out this bike route that was first used last year.

“People liked it,” Slingerland said, as Dilendik added, “It’s fun without being overly difficult – no big hills.”

The Rev. Jack Steltzer, pastor of Rosemont, will participate as a rider for the second consecutive year.

“I’m looking forward to it,” he said. “I’ve lived here over 20 years and many places on the route are new to me. It’s always a fun ride seeing new places.”

Maps will be provided at the start. The ride/walk will take two to four hours to complete. A LEPOCO support vehicle will be on-call to assist tired participants or bikers with problems such as flat tires.

“It’s a supported group ride/walk,” Slingerland said, explaining restrooms will be available as well as stops for drinks and snacks.

Riders are encouraged to take their bikes to CAT at 1935 W. Broad St. for a complimentary mechanical check before the event.

Participants who accumulate the most pledges win prizes supplied by, among others, Aardvark Sports Shop, Bethlehem; Book and Puppet Store, Easton; CAT – Coalition for Appropriate Transportation, Bethlehem; Nature’s Way Market, Easton; Nineteenth Street Theatre, Allentown; and Saucon Valley Bikes, Hellertown.

The event will be held in light or intermittent rain. If there is a steady rain, call the LEPOCO Peace Center for confirmation. Rain date is Sunday, Oct. 16 at noon.

Anyone interested in biking or walking may contact the LEPOCO Peace Center for pledge sheets at 610-691-8730.

For more information on LEPOCO visit https://www.lepoco.org/.

Press photo by Tami Quigley Doing a bike check as they gear up for the LEPOCO Bike/Walk-a-Thon at Rosemont Lutheran Church are, from left, Amanda Zaniesienko, the Rev. Jack Steltzer, Scott Slingerland and Diane Dilendik. The event is slated for Saturday, Oct. 15. LEPOCO's offices are housed at Rosemont.