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Immokalee trio plans bike trip to Big Apple to raise money for church

Three Immokalee residents are determined to go beyond the extra mile to raise money for their church.

Two thousand miles beyond.

They plan to ride their bicycles from New York to Immokalee and they’re pedaling to benefit Bethel Assembly’s future gymnasium for the youth in Immokalee.

The cyclists — Frank Rincon, 33, Armando Yzaguirre, 21, and 18-year-old Moises Diaz — want to provide a place with after-school activities for the youngsters in their congregation and the entire community.

Rincon, the church’s youth pastor, said he wanted a mind-boggling fundraiser to benefit the youth. Bethel Assembly has about 65 youth congregation members, ages 13 to 19.

The trio plan to take a train from Miami to Grand Central Station in New York in early June. Using several maps, their strategy is to start pedaling June 3 or June 4 through the Atlantic coast, diverting at several locations to make it a 2,000-mile trip.

From left, Frank Rincon, Armando Yzaguirre and Moises Diaz, all of Immokalee and members of Bethel Assembly, make their way east on Highway 846 on the outskirts of Immokalee on May 10. The three riding enthusiasts will travel to New York City in early June and spend the next four weeks biking 2,000 miles back to southwest Florida -- part of a pledge drive to raise money for Bethel Assembly.

Photo by TRISTAN SPINSKI

From left, Frank Rincon, Armando Yzaguirre and Moises Diaz, all of Immokalee and members of Bethel Assembly, make their way east on Highway 846 on the outskirts of Immokalee on May 10. The three riding enthusiasts will travel to New York City in early June and spend the next four weeks biking 2,000 miles back to southwest Florida -- part of a pledge drive to raise money for Bethel Assembly.

The men aren’t professional cyclists with unlimited time to train. For the past six months, they have been training twice a week for about two hours, riding their bikes around Immokalee for about 40 miles.

Rincon sold his 1999 Monte Carlo to purchase the three bikes.

"It sounds really crazy what we are doing ... but the conditions that they are living in are crazy," Yzaguirre said.

He worries about a generation of teens tempted by things like drug use, sexual activity and crime.

"We are really trying to reach these kids ... that are living in the extreme," said Yzaguirre, who is taking time off from his job to make the trip.

Rincon, who is leaving behind his wife, Genette, and 3-year-old son, said the goal is to cycle from 75 to 100 miles a day and camp in tents, some days doing their own cooking.

Bethel Assembly’s gym — 70 feet wide and 125 feet long — is yet to be built. Church officials struggled for five years to get the permits they need.

The cost to build the gym is about $1.2 million.

To raise money for computers and equipment for the gym, the group is collecting pledges per mile.

Rincon estimates it will take them about one month and a week to finish the trip.

Frank Rincon, left, and Armando Yzaguirre, joke with each other on May 10 before pushing off for their twice-weekly 35-mile ride through the countryside outside of Immokalee -- part of their training for the upcoming 2,000-mile ride from New York City to Immokalee.

Photo by TRISTAN SPINSKI

Frank Rincon, left, and Armando Yzaguirre, joke with each other on May 10 before pushing off for their twice-weekly 35-mile ride through the countryside outside of Immokalee -- part of their training for the upcoming 2,000-mile ride from New York City to Immokalee.

The original goal was $250,000, but Rincon said he would be happy with $100,000. As of Thursday, the group had raised about $15,000.

Among the teens supporting the fundraiser is Luis Trejo.

"I think it’s pretty cool," the 16-year-old Immokalee resident said.

Trejo, who is Rincon’s nephew, said he wants the gym to be built to keep people his age out of trouble.

The men are counting the days until the adventure.

"I’m excited and anxious," Rincon said. "I would feel a lot better if the pledges started rolling in."

Yzaguirre admits that riding the bikes from New York to Immokalee will be difficult but says it will be possible with the encouragement of the community.

Ultimately, the whole process will be fun, and at the same time benefit the entire community, he said before riding his bike.

People can pledge before and during the bike trip online at www.bethelassembly.imeem.com or by calling the church’s office at 657-8302.

© 2007 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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