The Second Annual H.I.S. Home 300 Bike Ride, Michigan Route, a six-day noncompetitive bike ride to support Haitian orphans, was started by Rockford resident Geoff VanBerkel and his wife Judy, whose now adopted daughters lived through the 2010 earthquake in Port Au Prince. The fundraising and awareness ride began on June 20, 2011 from Rockford and ended in Harrod, Ohio on June 25.
The passion to host and participate in the bike ride came from the VanBerkels’ decision to adopt from Haiti before the earthquake had even struck. Once it did, their adoption process was sped up immediately and within a few weeks, the VanBerkels were picking up their new Haitian daughters who had just survived the disaster.
Since they couldn’t adopt all the kids at the orphanage from which their daughters lived—H.I.S. Home For Children—their return to Rockford encouraged the VanBerkels to organize a 300-mile Michigan route bike ride to raise funds and awareness for the orphanage.
“More than funds, we are looking for awareness on the part of helping this mission,” said Geoff. “We are hoping that more and more people come to understand this story and find their own unique way to help.”
This year’s bike ride is in specific support of a safehouse that was created due to the earthquake, called H.I.S. Home ER (Earthquake Relief) in Port Au Prince. ER houses girls aged 8 to 16 years who were severely affected by the earthquake—there were over 15 girls sold into slavery just after the disaster, multiple accounts of abuse, and five girls who ended up pregnant due to abuse. ER is currently taking care of 29 “at risk” girls at this location. These girls for the most part are not adoptable, and need emotional healing and physical care.
The funds raised through the ride will provide the orphaned girls with food, shelter, school, medical and emotional healing, and vocational training. This event is 100 percent volunteer-driven.
For more information, visit www.hishome300mi.blogspot.com.