Everyday Heroes: Paul Anderson Youth Home Bike Ride

The Paul Anderson Youth Home bike ride.
The Paul Anderson Youth Home bike ride.(WTOC)
Updated: Jul. 22, 2020 at 6:02 PM EDT
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VIDALIA, Ga. (WTOC) - How far could you ride a bicycle? A group of young men are riding to represent a place that changes lives.

A team of riders and support crew from the Paul Anderson Youth Home is biking 300 miles. The ride is more than just a physical test. It symbolizes their journey to overcome addiction and personal struggles.

“A lot of these guys never thought they’d be out riding 300 miles. And to do that it’s just a huge, you see it on their face when you’re riding with them,” Paul Anderson Youth Home board member Fritz Olmhausen said.

This is the 15th year of the Paul Anderson Youth Home Bike Ride. The home in Vidalia works with school age boys and young men to help them overcome bad decisions or bad backgrounds.

“I’ve been in some legal trouble. I had the possibility of up to 32 years in prison, instead they gave me some probation with the condition that I complete the program, so for me it’s a very, very good opportunity,” 19-year-old Anthony said.

The youth home was founded in the 1960's by Olympic Gold medalist and world champion weightlifter, Paul Anderson. He paved the way for the annual bike ride by bicycling from Vidalia, Ga. to Nebraska.

That long journey was later re-imagined in the early 2000's and turned into this annual event. For the young men, the ride symbolizes their journey to overcome addiction and other personal struggles.

“I’d go maybe 15 miles and I go I’m done, and we have another 10-miles to do and I don’t want to do it. Then I realize, one you don’t have a choice and two it’s better that you just do it and get it over with,” Anthony said.

“It helps them know that they can achieve things they never thought they could. and it just gives them a sense of accomplishment,” Olmhausen said.

The Paul Anderson Youth Home has helped countless trouble teens over the last 50 plus years. This bike ride helps raise money and visibility for the home.

“You get a second chance at pretty much anything you want to ... any part of your past that brought you there you can put it behind you and just shoot off somewhere else after you graduate and do whatever you want to do,” Anthony said.

The young men are nearing the end of their journey. Earlier Tuesday, they made a stop in Townsend, Ga. to see “The Smallest Church in America.”

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