With the recovery from the Great Recession moving at an extremely slow pace, more and more area residents are finding it hard to make ends meet. Some struggle to pay their bills, while others struggle to simply put food on the table.
To help those who need it most, 61-year-old Bruce McKelvy, of Lansdale, will embark on a near 10,000 mile charity motorcycle run on Tuesday morning that will touch each of the lower 48 states, in an effort to raise money for the Compassion Corner food pantry at the Branch Creek Community Church in Harleysville.
"I'd just like people to be aware that there is this need in the community," said McKelvy, as he wrapped up his final preparations before his 4:30 a.m. departure. "Even though this is a wealthy area, there are a lot of people out there who are hurting, whether they're elderly or a young single-parent-family trying to make ends meet."
Back in early spring, McKelvy noticed a long line while he attended church. He asked what the people were in line for, and was told that the line represented people who needed food from the pantry.
"Some of these people are elderly, and by the time the put a roof over their head, pay for their electric, heat, and medical costs, they have no money left to buy food," said McKelvy. "I figured I could either make a donation to the pantry, or invest some money into a trip like this and raise a lot more money than I'd be able to donate on my own."
Compassion Corner serves over 17 communities throughout the region, including Lansdale, Ambler, Hatboro, and as far north as Quakertown. The pantry is open every Sunday and Wednesday, and 87 percent of those in need are not church members.
Because of the economic downturn, the pantry has had to find creative ways to stretch each dollar in order to help all those who need it.
Over the past several months, McKelvy secured individual and corporate sponsorships and donations as he plotted a counter-clockwise trip around the country. His goal is to raise a minimum of $25,000 for the pantry, though when asked how much he had raised to date, McKelvy said he preferred not knowing.
The 23-day trip will be completely interactive, as McKelvy will update his blog daily with information and photographs from his journey. Additionally, he'll be carrying a SPOT Satellite GPS Messenger so people who are following along can receive up to the minute location information, miles traveled and other related information.
"If people are sitting in their office, and they're thinking 'I wonder where that guy is now?', they can hop on the website and find out that I'm in Montana or somewhere else," said McKelvy with a laugh.
This won't be McKelvy's first—or last—long distance trip around the country. In fact, the self-described "motorcycle adventurer" has nearly two decades of experience.
"I used to run around all over the East Coast watching my son play water polo for the Naval Academy," said McKelvy. "My younger son, Chris, played football for Penn State and then briefly for the New Orleans Saints, so I'd regularly hop on the bike when they were away at Iowa or things like that."
McKelvy has even made the 15,000 mile round trip from Lansdale to the Arctic Circle, going as far as to travel on the same roads as the hit television show Ice Road Truckers.
Upon his return Sept. 28, McKelvy will receive a list of names and amounts donated, so he can thank everyone individually for their support.
For more information on McKelvy and the CC48 Motorcycle Run, please visit his website at www.cc48.org. There, you will find detailed route information, planned stops, ways to donate, a list of corporate sponsors, and a direct link to his daily blog.