DANSVILLE — A local man is getting prepared to make the ultimate journey of a lifetime in hopes of helping the church he calls home.
Paul Gangi, 63, of Dansville will take on The Great Divide Mountain Bike Route, a 3,083 mile adventure, on July 20 in hopes to raise money for the Dansville Grace Baptist Church.
The Great Divide Mountain Bike Route starts at Jasper, Alberta, Canada and ends at Antelope Wells, New Mexico.
Gangi said all of the money he raises on this trip will go to help with the Phase Three Project. This project will create a faith-based community center that will focus on the message of the church.
“A friend of mine who worked at the same company as me is coming with me,” Gangi said. “He is from Michigan, so I will be meeting him in Detroit. We will go to Jasper, Canada together to start the route.”
Gangi has gone biking before, but never for this long. He has always dreamed of doing The Great Divide.
“We are planning on 10 weeks for the trip. We want to have time to enjoy everything about it,” he said. “We are going to keep it to 50 miles a day, and take one day off a week to enjoy the scenery. If we get to a beautiful spot that we would like to stay at we are bringing camping gear.”
This Phase Three Project means a lot to Gangi and other members of the church.
“It is a big addition to the church that will benefit the Dansville community,” he said. “It will be a safe place to go to provide meals, and activities for families to do. It will be good for counseling kids in need. It will also be used as a place to have active shooter training, and be open for other organizations to use for meetings. It is not just a big gym, but a place for organizations and community to meet.”
Gangi said that you can’t take on something like The Great Divide without physical preparation, so he has been testing himself on bike trips to build endurance.
“The ride itself in unsupported, and there will be no one following us with food or water. We have to prepare all of that ourselves,” he said. “We will have clothes, food, water, maps, camping gear, and rain gear in our packs. This will add to the difficulty level of this trip. We will be riding through a lot of wilderness, and need to watch out for bears. We need to bring bear spray, and have bell on bike so we don’t surprise the animals.”
Gangi has been looking forward to this trip for a long time, and now that he is retired he can really enjoy it.
“Just because I am 63 years old doesn’t mean I have to sit in a rocking chair,” he said. “We are all marathoners, who like to stay fit and challenge ourselves.”
Pastor David Theobald of Grace Baptist Church said that he is honored that Gangi is doing this fundraiser for the church.
“He came to us about doing this fundraiser for the Phase Three Project, and we were on board with it,” he said. “All of the money raised will go to the church project. We hope to be done with the project in about three to five years, but it depends on how long it takes to get the funds.”
Theobald said that he hopes the faith-based community center will be a blessing to everyone.
“This building will allow us to do more for others in the community,” he said. “Right now we are doing a summer outreach program for children and teens every Wednesday night at 6 p.m. We provide supper and activities for them. With this project we will be able to do that all year long, and not just in the summertime.”
Theobald added that with the new project he will also be able to serve whole families on Wednesday nights.
“There are a lot of low income families in our community, and we want to bless them all,” he said. “We were really blessed a number of years ago when we built this nice six acre lot by the bus garage. We use the church property for ministry and sports events. This goes along with out message of being good stewards of what we have.”
Back in 1983 the Grace Baptist Church saw a need for a faith-based community center, and even had some blueprints drawn up of what their vision was. They called it Phase Three, so that and the original blueprints are being used to make the Phase Three Project a reality after 35 years.
The summer outreach programs on Wednesday nights are Kids Klub for ages six to 11 years old, and Summer Sports and Supper for ages 12 to college.
Gangi will have updates about the ride including videos, photos, and blogs on the fundraiser Facebook page Paul Gangi is “Riding the Divide”https://www.facebook.com/letsbuildphasethree/
On this page you can leave a donation through Plumfund at https://www.plumfund.com/charity-fundraising/paul-gangi-is-biking-3083-miles
For those who would like to make a donation through check you make it out to Grace Baptist Church and on the memo put Phase Three Project. Those checks can be mailed to 9316 Main Street, Dansville, NY 14437.
You can visit https://gracebcdansville.radiantwebtools.com/phase-iii-building-project/?p=0 to learn more about the Phase Three Project.