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For more on Habitat for Humanity Manitoba’s Cycle of Hope visit www.habitat.mb.ca/events-cycleofhope.cfm.

Lorraine Petkau recalls the moment 25 years ago when she saw the impact Habitat for Humanity can have.

The Winnipeg, Manitoba, woman was among the volunteers in 1993 when former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and wife Rosalynn came to town to build 18 homes for disadvantaged families in the Canadian city. Petkau noticed a 5-year-old girl pushing a wheelbarrow and collecting garbage to haul away in it.

“ ‘I have to pick up the garbage,’ ” Petkau, now 63, recalls the girl saying. “ ‘You see, that house over there is going to be my house, and I want to have a bedroom in that house.’ That’s the story that comes to me every time.”

Petkau and friend Olenka Antymniuk got inspiration on just how to help Habitat for Humanity when Cycle 500, a group of cyclists from Minnesota, came to the build site and donated part of the money they’d raised to the project.

“I said, ‘Somebody has to start a bicycle race for fundraising,’ ” Petkau said. “She said, ‘Lorraine, you start the race and I’ll cycle.”

The next year Habitat for Humanity’s Cycle of Hope rolled out, riding 1,000 kilometers (just over 600 miles) to the 1994 build in Eagle Butte, S.D. Since then, the cyclists have made it an annual tradition to ride about the same distance, raising more than $3 million in 25 years.

Petkau was part of a group of 35 cyclists (and a 10-member support team) that rolled into Redmond 25 years later as a stopover on their journey from Astoria to Baker City. The trip was the first part of the TransAmerica Trail, a Cycle of Hope ride that will take riders in segments from Oregon to Norfolk, Va., over six years.

They set up cots in the gym July 8 at Ridgeview High after riding 78 miles from Belknap Springs, near McKenzie Bridge. The cyclists brought with them a total of seven vans. Some carried luggage and equipment in trailers, two had trailers to haul the bicycles during the drives to and from Oregon and others were there for other support.

The ride to Redmond was the fifth leg of their 1,041 kilometer ride. They planned to ride to Mitchell July 9 before wrapping up the cycling part of the trip two days later in Baker City.

Each rider is required to raise at least $3,000 for Habitat before the ride starts. They’d brought in $125,000 before the ride, with hopes of topping the 2017 total of more than $300,000.

The trip, which also included stops in Tillamook, Monmouth and Eugene, had been “amazing” so far, said Jeff Strain, 42, of Edmonton, Alberta.

“When people ask, ‘Why do you do this?’ I tell them you get a chance to help people and also challenge yourself and see the world in a way you wouldn’t be able to otherwise,” he said.

The cyclists are traveling across the United States instead of their own country because the U.S has better roads than Canada, Petkau said.

While some of the cyclists have done the ride as many as 20 times, Petkau, a 15-time veteran, said others are in their first ride.

“We have a lot of new cyclists that are getting that infection — Habititus,” she said.

Money raised this year by Cycle of Hope will go toward building a home for a family from the Republic of Congo, according to Habitat. The family spent three years in a refugee camp in Chad before moving to Canada in 2013.

The most rewarding part has been seeing the reactions of the families who get homes through Habitat, Petkau said. Each one has to put in 500 hours of sweat equity on their house.

“We get back to Winnipeg and cycle into the build site and the family is waiting there,” she said. “They are so grateful we are partnering with them.”

— Reporter: 541-548-2186, gfolsom@redmondspokesman.com

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