It’s been 33 years since I first donned a cycling helmet and turned a pastime into a passion. Having tackled my longest trek during the Six Gap Century Bike Ride out of Dahlonega – which features 104 miles up and down six of the steepest climbs in the North Georgia Mountains, I am now on the road (literally) for one of the biggest challenges of my life. On August 1, I set out from a small town north of Seattle, Washington for a cross-country ride that ends 4,000 miles away in Bar Harbor, Maine. Expected to take roughly two months to complete, the ride holds far more meaning than an opportunity to check a box off my bucket list. I hope this ride will help raise awareness and funds for a nonprofit near and dear to my heart – Rainbow Village. In celebration of the 30th anniversary of the nonprofit dedicated to providing safe housing, education, and community support systems to families experiencing homelessness, I hope to raise $30,000 to help Rainbow Village move the needle to ending homelessness in Metro Atlanta.
A resident of Gwinnett County since 1985, I first became familiar with Rainbow Village as a member of the congregation at Pleasant Hill Presbyterian Church. My journey with the nonprofit began as yardwork at the – then – Rainbow House before evolving to financial contributions and volunteer work in the afterschool program when it was hosted at my church during construction of Rainbow Village’s current campus in the heart of Duluth. I have watched it grow in size and scope over the course of three decades – from serving one family at a time at its start to up to 30 families for a period of two years so they can confidently embark on the journey to self-sufficiency and thrive beyond the village.
Rotating from one homeless shelter to the next isn’t the way for families to get back on track. The mission at Rainbow Village and their four pillars of providing Help Hope Housing and Healing to families in need really resonated with me. Instead of a cookie cutter program, Rainbow Village takes a customized approach to restore families to wholeness.
An engineer for 28 years and physics teacher at Brookwood High School for the last 12, I am kicking off retirement by pairing a lifelong dream with my church’s mission of “Connecting Faith with Everyday Life.” As a retirement gift to myslelf, I bought a brand-new Trek Domane bike and began making plans for a cross country ride to benefit Rainbow Village. Following a route created by Adventure Cycling, the biggest challenges I will face during the trek are my own adaptability (I've already had to adjust my route by 200 miles due to road closures from a forest fire), getting up the energy to blog daily on DanMillerRides.com, and finding a place to rest my head each night. It is not lost on me that the last challenge is one homeless families face every day and not by choice. While on this journey, I will have a lot of time to think about the roadmap for the rest of my life as I transition from a career I loved at a school with a big heart for the community that surrounds it to retirement. I am blessed to have all my family in the same city and look forward to reuniting with all of them when I return from this ride, especially my 18-month-old granddaughter. I plan to be back in time to attend Rainbow Village’s annual “We Are Family” Benefit Gala on October 16, 2021 at Atlanta Athletic Club.
Your support of my goal to raise awareness about homelessness and funds to support Rainbow Village would be a very special blessing to me. I hope you will follow my progress across the miles by checking out my blog at DanMillerRides.com.