The following story was published by the Denver Catholic online June 1, 2016.
By Nissa LaPoint/Catholic Charities of Denver
Some avid cyclists pass the time with their favorite tunes or by chatting with fellow riders. During the Ride the Rockies Bicycle Tour, Leslie Prevish brings prayer intentions and her rosary.
“It helps to be able to focus on praying for someone else instead of on my own pain,” said 47-year-old Prevish about the six-day Colorado bicycle tour. “And I say a lot of rosaries up and down the mountains. I know other people are praying for me and that helps, too.”
Prevish will ride once again with Team Samaritan House through 400 miles of steep grades and winding roads during the Ride the Rockies Colorado Tour June 11-17. The team dedicates their tour to raise awareness of Samaritan House homeless shelter in Denver and encourage donations to provide meals and shelter through Catholic Charities’ shelter programs.
During Ride the Rockies, Prevish said every mile she pedals is a chance to grow in faith and pray for others in need, she said.
“I’m going to ride and pray and spread awareness,” said Prevish, who lives in Boulder. “I think about the challenges of homelessness. And anybody could have a circumstance in their life that causes them to end up homeless. It’s important to help people in need and not judge because you don’t know their story.”
Prevish said she can understand how easy it is to fall into homelessness.
“My dad died when I was 8 years old,” she said. “My mom did the best she could to raise the four of us, but she struggled in several ways. Sometimes I think that we could have ended up homeless if it wasn’t for our extended family in the area.”
In 2005, Prevish decided it was time to get back in shape. She lost 80 pounds, got back into running and started doing triathlons. She’s finished three Ironman triathlons since then.
“Doing triathlons helped me develop the mental toughness for the long days in the saddle during Ride the Rockies,” Prevish said. “But there’s a point after the second day of riding where you find an inner fortitude you never knew you had, and you realize that strength comes from God and the support of others around you.”
Prevish was drawn to the team’s camaraderie during training and tough rides.
“We’re such a strong Christian team, and it’s wonderful to know you have the encouragement to keep going. Our team is a beacon of light for the homeless and each other,” Prevish said. “As Mother Teresa said, the only cure for loneliness, despair and hopelessness is love.”
All funds the team raises go to Samaritan House, a downtown Denver shelter for men, women and families, along with Samaritan House Fort Collins and Guadalupe Community Center and Shelter in Greeley. In 2015, Catholic Charities provided 1,087,493 nights of shelter at emergency, transitional (and permanent) housing.
Over the past five years, Team Samaritan House has raised more than $250,000 thanks to generous donors. The riders credit Catholic Charities CEO Larry Smith for their success. He set each riders’ goal to a minimum of $1,500.
Joining Prevish is a growing team—now in its sixth year with Ride the Rockies—of business executives, college graduates, mothers and fathers driven to give to the homeless.
Tom Schwein, team captain, said they bike to make a positive impact on those experiencing homelessness.
“My motivation for this ride is, and will be, knowing the difference we can make in the lives of those less fortunate,” he said. “Each dollar raised will truly change the lives of the individuals and families who call these shelters home.”
The team will begin their tour in Carbondale before trekking up to 85 miles per day through Aspen, Vail, Silverthorne, Estes Park and finally Fort Collins—exceeding 29,000 feet in elevation gains.
Prevish said she is taking prayer requests for her ride. She will tape a laminated list of intentions to her bike and carry them along with her.
“The world is so noisy that it’s a blessing to have time for reflection and prayer when you’re on the bike,” she said. “It would be wonderful for those who can’t ride with us to support homeless shelters and those who are in great need.”
Learn more about Team Samaritan House at https://samhousedenver.org/team-samaritan.
Team Samaritan House send-off
Tuesday, June 7, 5:30 p.m.
Denver Press Club, 1330 Glenarm Place
RSVP on Facebook