CLEVELAND (WJW) – Eleven years ago, two Cleveland men, who’ve been friends since middle school, wanted to exercise together.
Garret Winfree is a marathon runner, but Leonard Church is not.
So the two thought, “What about riding bikes?”
“We were working out and it turned into, ‘Hey, let’s invite some of our friends to ride with us,'” said Winfree.
Over the years, a few friends turned into 20, 30, and sometimes even 50 people, participating in what is now an annual Bike Ride For Hunger.
“Me, being a barber, we see some people that are, I guess, income-challenged in a sense. You know, even even if they don’t say it, you can, you know, you can sometimes see without being judgmental. You can sometimes see, but I think that we impact those people by, you know, providing something simple, a simple meal,” said Church.
Winfree and Church chose their local barber shop, Diamond Cut Barber Shop in Cleveland, to act as a hub for the canned goods and non-perishable items riders and others donate.
In the past, the two men have delivered the food to local pantries and the Greater Cleveland Food Bank, which reports 1 in 6 people in its service area are food insecure, meaning they do not know where their next meal will come from.
This year all the donations collected at Diamond Cut Barber Shop will be given to Give a Hug, Lend a Hand, Have a Heart, a nonprofit started by a woman in the Superior/Hough neighborhood that serves the needs of kids.
Diamond Cut is also the starting point for the ride.
This year’s route is a little over five miles long and ends at Edgewater park. It’s a slow ride, so participants can go at their own pace.
“When you’re riding with us, even when we’re riding, you may not ride as much as we do. You may be in the back of the line, but we make sure everyone stays together. No one’s left behind,” said Winfree.
Both men say every year, the energy is unmatched.
“We’ve seen everything from riding past barbecues and house parties to, you know, people out just hanging out on the street. Sometimes, some of the homeless community Downtown, you know, we’ll even have some guys cheer us on as we ride by,” said Church. “Just to see a group of people doing something, you know, it sometimes excites other people.”
The pair believe every little bit helps when solving community issues and they encourage others to move forward with their own ideas, no matter how small they may seem.
“Try it. Try you never know who’s…first of all the people who will support you, and the people that you can impact. So if you choose not to do it, you could be hurting. You’re not helping much. The only thing you could do is fail at it, and then when you fail, you learn why you failed and try to patch that up and now you keep going,” said Winfree.
Bike Ride For Hunger will take place Sunday, July 10, 2022. The ride begins at 2:00 p.m. at Diamond Cut Barbershop which is located at 5139 Superior Avenue in Cleveland.
Winfree and Church say you do not need to register or donate to participate.
A portion of the proceeds from official Bike Ride For Hunger t-shirts will go toward the purchase of more donations.