By Sue Botos
While temperatures hovering near 90 degrees kept many folks in front of the air conditioner or in the pool, former Rocky River resident Mark Oldenburg completed a 375-mile bicycle ride from Chicago to Cleveland, raising nearly $14,000 for the Open Arms Home for Children in South Africa.
Arriving at his parents’ home on Lake Road in Rocky River more than an hour ahead of schedule, Oldenburg was surprised by a police escort from the Bay Village line, through Rocky River. He was greeted by cheers and applause from a crowd of family and friends, including his wife, Donna, and two youngest daughters, Ashley and Skyler who provided support on the final leg of the three-day solo journey.
“Open Road for Open Arms” was the theme for Oldenburg’s ride, which began on June 20 at the start of the bike path on Lake Shore Drive in Chicago. The original goal for the ride was to raise $7,500 for the Open Arms Home, which provides a loving residential environment for children orphaned by the AIDS pandemic in South Africa. Donations ended up being close to double that amount.
“I was overwhelmed by the generosity of my family and friends,” said Oldenburg, as he posed for pictures at his parents’ home and in front of the sign on the Rocky River City Hall campus, that congratulated him on his trek. “They knew how important it was to me to make a difference for these kids, and they put their financial and emotional support behind me and made it happen.”
Oldenburg added that Open Arms can support a child for one year for about $1,200, and with the money he raised, the home will be able to take care of 11 children for one year or provide a year of private schooling for up to four older children. “To think that doing something as simple as riding my bike could make this kind of a difference is just amazing to me,” he added.
The Open Road for Open Arms website will continue to accept donations through July 6. Those wishing to recognize Oldenburg’s effort and help support the children of Open Arms can go to www.gofundme.com/3703kw to donate and learn more. For more information about Open Arms Home for Children go to www.openarmshome.com.