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Cross Country Trail Ride To Aid Children

Why ride 1900 miles on horseback? It takes an adventurous spirit, determination, skill, and a cause. Trail boss Richard Fipps and the cowboys who will join him in the ride from Cherokee County, Alabama to Vernal, Utah know the trip will not be easy. There will be delays, breakdowns and setbacks. That is when they will remember the reason they are riding - hungry and hurting children.

A six-year-old girl in the inner-city whose mother sold her to buy drugs. A migrant worker's son who has not had a decent meal in months. A child who lives in the sewers of Nogales, Arizona. A teen who attends a youth program after school to escape the violence at home. They, and children like them, are the reason.

On April 26, 2002, Fipps and the others will begin Riding for the Children. The adventure will last approximately three and a half months and take riders from northeastern Alabama to the Colorado/Utah border, passing through numerous communities, including: Memphis, TN; Little Rock, AR; Tulsa and Oklahoma City, OK; Amarillo, TX; Colorado Springs and Denver, CO.

"We started talking about the ride kind of by accident", says Fipps. "The more serious we got, the more I wanted to find someone who was helping hungry kids in America. You see celebrities on TV asking you to support children everywhere else, but there are needy children and needy parents in our own country."

Riding for the Children will benefit hungry and homeless men, women and especially children. Monetary donations will go to the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions (AGRM), headquartered in Kansas City, MO, with more than 275 member ministries throughout the United States. Canned food and non-perishable dry goods will be collected and distributed by food banks and rescue missions located along the route, putting the contributions to immediate use.

In addition to feeding hungry people, AGRM members often provide a haven for children and families dealing with the real-life issues of poverty. "Some children have no idea that the 'American Dream' includes a big house and a white picket fence," says Steve Burger, AGRM Executive Director. "One of our missions asked children in their youth program to draw a picture of home. Nine out of ten drawings included a smoking gun or a knife dripping with blood."

Fipps, a working cowboy who breaks and trains horses, owns a western wear and feed store, and is a successful farrier, plans for the riders to travel approximately 25 miles a day. At the end of each day, the riders will make camp, cooking over an open fire and, weather permitting, sleeping under the stars. Fipps and a few others plan to complete the entire journey.Other participants will join a portion of the ride as it passes through their community. "Someday," says Fipps, "I'll be able to tell my grandkids that I rode across the country, and I did it for a reason. I've always tried to help people in need get a meal or find a place to rest. We're hoping to do that
in a big way."

Association of Gospel Rescue Missions members annually provide more than 33 million meals, 12 million nights of lodging, and 28 million articles of clothing to homeless men, women, and children. Rescue Missions are faith-based, private organizations that also provide job training, education, Christian rehabilitation programs and community ministry to families and children.

For more information about the Riding for the Children or the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions, please refer to the web site at


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