Ride for Resilience will stop at The River Center

  • Mark Knights, founder of Ride for Resilience for the New Hampshire Children's Trust, hoists his bike above his head at Waypoint in Concord, the halfway mark of last year’s ride. This year's ride starts Oct. 14. COURTESY PHOTO

  • Mark Knights at the Community Action Partnership of Strafford County, the endpoint of last year's Ride for Resilience. —COURTESY PHOTO

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 10/10/2022 2:07:37 PM
Modified: 10/10/2022 2:07:27 PM

Four riders will be pedaling across the Granite State starting Oct. 14 in the the New Hampshire Children’s Trust Ride for Resilience to raise awareness about child abuse and neglect.

The ride will stop at The River Center in Peterborough. Executive Director Margaret Nelson said the ride is important because it emphasizes resilience, which is fundamental to what The River Center focuses on in their work.

“This is an important concept for our communities and families,” Nelson said. “We all need to be prepared for the unexpected and the joyful and challenging journey of parenting. It’s very exciting to have [the New Hampshire Children’s Trust] doing this.”

Conducted in partnership with New Hampshire’s network of family resource centers, the ride is held yearly to raise awareness of family-strengthening protective factors. New Hampshire Children’s Trust is the governor’s designated statewide community-based child abuse prevention agency, part of the New Hampshire chapter of Prevent Child Abuse America and a member of the National Alliance of Children’s Trust & Prevention Funds. Founded in 1986 as New Hampshire Children’s Trust Fund, a quasi-governmental organization, the agency transitioned to New Hampshire Children’s Trust, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation, in 2011. 

The Ride for Resilience was an idea born a “little bit out of necessity,” said Mark Knights, who founded the ride in 2021 and who has been on the board of directors for the trust since 2018.

“When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the children’s trust – like a lot of nonprofits – saw some of its traditional fundraising take a hit,” he said, given the impossibility of doing in-person, meet-and-greet fundraisers. “We were looking at a couple of years in a row when we weren’t going to be able to do those events.”

Early on during the pandemic, Knights – who will be riding with Healthy Starts Program Manager Penny Vaine, trust Executive Director Cliff Simmonds and Rainna Baker -- said he asked himself what could be done to spread the word about the work being done by the trust.

“What would replace the fundraisers?” he asked himself.

In the spring of 2021, while out on his bike, the idea came to him.

“Why can’t I just ride my bike across the entire state,’” he asked, explaining he considers himself a recreational cyclist and not an endurance athlete. “I’d never ridden further than 30 miles at a stretch. But I was willing to give it a shot.”

Knights reached out to the trust, and said he was gratified to get the support from the community that first year.

 “It wasn’t intended, but I love the symbolism of the Ride for Resilience. Resilience is one of the key protective factors to prevent child abuse and neglect,” he said. “Parents need to have that flexibility, that inner strength to confront challenges when they arise, to overcome them, to move on stronger for the experience. And riding a bike 100 miles across the state requires that same flexibility and inner strength, that same stick-with-it-ness.”

The ride covers a range of challenging terrain that pushes the riders to overcome the pain that comes with some of the sustained climbs, Knight’s said. 

“Just like in parenting – when you’re able to confront big problems and work through them, parenting becomes a whole lot easier,” he said. “And having people around you to support you and cheer you on, to reinforce that you’re making progress, makes it all a whole lot easier.”

Trust spokesman Paul Fleming said the mission of the trust is to create family situations where New Hampshire communities are working together to raise families together free of abuse and neglect.

“Showing people the resilience to overcome challenges is what we do every day at the trust,” he said, adding that the trust is a facilitating organization that works with a network of 16 family resource centers in 25 locations throughout the state.  

The ride will begin at Healthy Starts in Keene at 6:30 a.m. Friday. Riders will then head east, making stops at The River Center and Upper Room in Derry. The ride will end at Vernon Family Farms in Newfields, for food, music and celebration.

“Four riders are participating this year, and we anticipate that the participation level is going to skyrocket in future years,” said Fleming.

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