Mark Wiewel keeps those two words in mind as mile after mile passes under his recumbent bicycle’s tires. Since 2006, Wiewel pedaled more than 22,000 miles for Bike For Food, where he matches donations provided to area food pantries. He rides year-round, “because people eat 365 days a year.” Wherever he goes, he shares the legacy of his late wife, Karen.
Karen Wiewel passed away in January 2015, after a courageous battle with cancer. A large butterfly decal with her name covers a portion of his bike’s front screen with purple, her favorite color.
“She was an incredibly positive person,” Mark Wiewel said.
The couple used to ride together for the cause of helping area food pantries. In 2016, Wiewel’s daughter, Caroline, joined him on his mission. Wiewel plans to bike 200 miles for each food pantry he is working with — Douglass Community Services; food pantries in Canton, Palmyra and Fort Madison, Iowa; and eight food pantries in Quincy. He’s covered 2,200 miles, with 200 miles left to go.
During Bike For Food’s first year, the goal of $1,000 grew to $2,000 for four Quincy food pantries. In 2015, donations came to $111,000. From 2006 to 2015, bike rides coupled with countless donations brought in more than $321,000 to area food pantries.
Wiewel worked with a sponsor in previous years to provide matching funds, but he recently sold a vehicle so he could write the checks to each food pantry personally. His personal mission statement reflects his generosity: “Be a blessing to somebody today.”
And Wiewel gives abundant credit to the donors who make the program successful.
“There are so many very, very generous people,” he said. “I just pedal.”
Wiewel has spun those pedals all the way across Illinois, Iowa and Missouri. He’s participated in numerous weeklong rides — riding through bracing headwinds, tackling hundreds of hills and pedaling dozens of miles in the rain. But when fatigue sets in, the cause of helping those in need spurs him on.
With every donation and each passing mile, the impact grows for local food pantries and their clients.
“If everyone does a little, we accomplish a lot,” Wiewel said.
Peggy Walley, Community Support Services Director at Douglass Community Services said the the food pantry is always in need of food, but the holidays bring out more donors than other times of the year.
She said the pantry is generally well-stocked throughout the holidays. Staff members at DCS are grateful for donations year-round. Walley said that the amount of food declines after the holiday season in January or February, but there are groups and individual donors who give throughout the year.
“People are so generous,” Walley said. “It’s just heartwarming.”
To find out more about the Bike For Food program or donate to the cause, please visit BikeForFood.org or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted Nov 20, 2016 at 12:45 PM in the Hannibal Courier Post. Article by Trevor McDonald, reporter.