A 61-year-old pastor is taking his charitable mission to heart-pumping lengths, as he embarks on a nearly 3000-mile bike trek across the country to raise money for the city’s historic Bowery Mission.
Chuck Monts, a former mission staffer, said that even as demand for free meals soared last year, the charity never turned anyone away.
During the height of the pandemic, up to 500 hungry New Yorkers would line up daily outside the Lower East Side charity, which serves thousands of needy New Yorkers per year, a mission spokesman confirmed.
“Serving people in need is part of my humanity,” Monts said. “I have a personal connection as a staff member to help them by raising donations for them.”
The recently retired worker has also always been a fitness buff— he once held a plank for a full 61 minutes— and he’s no novice to do-good challenges.
When he was just 18, he hopped on his first cross-country cycling fundraising expedition and for years, he’s dreamed of testing his limits for a higher purpose.
He’s set to kick-off the his pedaling jaunt, dubbed “Biking for the Bowery,” from Los Angeles on June 5.
His goal is to bike 80 miles daily five days a week, with his wife tailing behind him in a car, in case of emergencies. He expects the trip to take roughly 40 days and plans to be finished by the end of July.
“Physical challenges have always been big in my life. This is about the combination of having a physical challenge along with the opportunity to raise money for a good case,” said Monts, who is also a pastor at Pleasant Valley Presbyterian Church in Brodheadsville, Pa.
“My wife is driving a backup vehicle because you just never know what could happen. She will also be my photographer.”
Because he’s strapped for cash, he’s banking on local churches to let him and his wife crash for the night. Some have already offered to put them up in hotels.
Two of his college buddies will be joining him in Las Vegas to bike through the majestic Rockies to Salt Lake City.
He’s calling on “movers” to join him and help spread the mission’s word by participating in any activity as he journeys through each state.
During his travels, he’ll make a pitch for local food charities while meeting new faces across America’s varied terrain. So far, he’s raised over $8,000 of his $25,000 goal.
“We’re in an amazing nation. This a chance to affirm who we are as a diverse country. It’s a time to celebrate and learn again. When people meet you, and they learn you’re helping people in need, they’re there to support you. It’s a really uplifting, unifying experience to do something like this,” he added.
Monts choked up recalling a chance meeting with a restaurant owner on a long practice bike ride in a rural town in Pennsylvania last year. The owner was so touched after learning about the fundraiser, he insisted on giving him a free meal.
“It was in the midst of Covid and he wasn’t making any money but he tapped his heart and he gave me my money back and that is typical of who we are. He left and I went back to his daughter and gave him back the money”
“That’s what I’m opening myself up to. People’s charity is always moving and humbling.”
Regular updates will be posted on social media. He’ll return to New York City on July 31.
While homelessness has been a crisis prior to the pandemic, there are now over 54,0000 homeless folks in the Big Apple, according to the Coalition for the Homeless.