Cyclists, on both real and virtual roads, completed thousands of miles Wednesday to make sure a 66-year-old Houston non-profit can continue helping those with intellectual and developmental disabilities on their own lifelong journeys.
The Center, with facilities in Houston and Brookshire, provides safe, supportive housing, technical training and job opportunities for adults with IDD. But concerned with its financial stability, volunteer and board member David Baldwin decided to organize a cross-country bicycle trip.
Baldwin and a team would ride more than 3,500 miles from coast-to-coast and get donations pledged for each mile, while a team back in Houston -- which eventually reached more than 700 people -- would ride on stationary exercise bikes in a room they dubbed “Mission Control." They pledged their own money and mileage to the cause, calling the effort “Pursuit.”
BBVA Compass agreed to be the title sponsor. The two-month event that ended Wednesday raised $13.5 million.
"It gives me my freedom, independence, and I met all these great friends,” said Center resident Allison Rosenberg, 24, one of more than 500 people who rely on The Center programs.
"When you live bright, and you do something positive for others, not only do you help yourself and make yourself feel better, but you can really make a difference in the community in which you live,” said Jennifer Dominiquini, Chief Marketing Officer of BBVA Compass.
Dominiquini also completed 500 of her own miles on the road with Baldwin and his team.
"They are no different than anybody else,” said The Center spokesperson Natasha Turner. “They want to live great lives just like you and I. So that's what we're promoting here at The Center."
"Kevin, it was good that we finished today,” joked a weary Baldwin in a Skype interview at the end of his journey in Delaware. The team took their bicycles all the way to the surf of the Atlantic and raise them in triumph over their heads.
"You can make a difference," Baldwin said. "You know if you have a dream or a way of getting involved make it happen. Take a risk. Get involved. Be a renegade.”
Baldwin, a Center volunteer for 25 years and an energy industry executive and Co-President of SCF Partners, also pledged a $5 million donation on his own.
“It’s giving people in wheelchairs like me a chance to evolve, a chance to grow as an individual,” Rosenberg said.
Rosenberg also joked that she’s enjoyed being “the Mayor of Mission Control!”
A variety of individuals and corporations took part in the Mission Control cycling “Pursuit,” logging more than 25,000 miles.
The Center is Houston’s largest nonprofit organization providing services to adults with IDD.