From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Iowa Lutheran Changes Lives Two Wheels at a Time

Date Fri, 17 Jul 2009 10:46:06 -0500

Title: Iowa Lutheran Changes Lives Two Wheels at a Time

>July 17, 2009  

Iowa Lutheran Changes Lives Two Wheels at a Time

CHICAGO (ELCA) -- Lucy Thomas is a bike peddler.

The 64-year-old Iowan collects and repairs old bicycles and helmets.
Then she donates them to refugee families being resettled in the state.

The bikes provide a way for them to get around other than by bus or
their own two feet. Adults use them to get to work, school and

For many children it's the first bike they've owned.

"It's more than a hobby. It's a service I provide," said Thomas, a
member of Lord of Life Lutheran Church, Ames.

The bikes are distributed by Lutheran Services of Iowa. Michelle
Raymer, who works at the Des Moines-based social service agency, called
the bikes a godsend.

"The families are so grateful," said Raymer, who calls Thomas'
efforts a ministry.

"She's definitely a compassionate woman who cares about our
families," Raymer said."

In four years the agency resettled nearly 1,800 families from
Bosnia, Iran, Iraq, Liberia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, Somalia,
Sudan, Vietnam and other countries.

No one provides more bicycles than Thomas, the agency said.

"She's high energy -- a person with great social concerns," said the
Rev. Ron Mohr, interim pastor of Lord of Life, a congregation of the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).

A few months ago Thomas drove a load of refurbished bikes for
hurricane survivors to Galveston, Texas. She recently hauled bikes to
Cedar Rapids, Iowa, for survivors of last year's floods.

"Rather than writing a check to charity, it's something hands-on
that I can do," Thomas said. She donates a helmet with every bike.

Thomas, who grew up in Minnesota, was nine years old before she
learned to ride a bike. She's never stopped.

"I started biking before they made padded bike shorts," she said and

She's pedaled in Iowa's Ragbrai, the annual cycling trek across the
state that draws more than 10,000 bikers. She's also cycled in the 100
mile Minnesota Ironman Bicycle Ride.     

"I'm kind of past my prime as far as being competitive," she said.

Thomas succeeded in getting more bike trails around Ames during her
terms as president of Friends of Central Iowa Biking. She guides riders
around those trails today.

She's rooting for Lance Armstrong in the Tour de France. She's also
cheering the Tour de Revs -- three pastors cycling across the United
States to raise money for the ELCA World Hunger Appeal.

Thomas keeps a lower profile than those bikers. Most recipients of
her bikes never learn that she's the donor. 

"I don't care if they know my name or not," she said. "It's just
gratifying to be doing something to help people, even in a small way."


More on the Pretty Good Lutherans blog at on the Web. 

Information about the ELCA World Hunger Appeal is at on the Web.

Information about the Tour de Revs is at on the Web.

For information contact:

John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or
ELCA News Blog: 

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