Ringgold's Poplar Springs Baptist Church staff is recruiting cyclists for the 2011 Miles for Missions to benefit AMG International.
Athletes that sign up by Sept. 28 receive a race T-shirt.
Miles for Missions began in 2010 in Ooltewah with about 60 participants, 30 of which were members of Poplar Springs Baptist Church. So AMG asked Poplar Springs staff to spearhead the 2011 race, which will be held inside the Chickamauga Battlefield Oct. 8 from 9 a.m. to noon.
"I would love to double the number of participants this year," said Poplar Springs pastor Chris Petty, who rode his mountain bicycle in the 2010 Miles for Missions. "The battlefield is a nice place to ride a bike."
Petty said he will cycle 15 miles twice a week to train prior to Miles for Missions. The 2010 event spanned 20 miles, but this year's race will be more family-friendly, with a five-mile loop around the Chickamauga Battlefield in Fort Oglethorpe. Petty said he anticipates seeing bicyclists of all ages racing. A safety car will follow cyclists and bottled water will be provided.
Poplar Springs Baptist teams go on mission trips with AMG International to witness firsthand how the organization impacts children in need. Miles for Missions funds AMG Camp Ministries in Thailand, the Philippines and Guatemala.
"Camps in the Philippines, Thailand and Guatemala are neat," said Petty, who witnessed an AMG Guatemala camp in 2009. "Kids getting to go to camp ... it is literally a once in a lifetime experience."
AMG International sponsors children by providing an education, school uniform, meals and summer camp fees. Petty said there are more than 6,000 children in AMG schools in Guatemala. He painted one of the schools while serving with AMG.
While in Guatemala, Petty said he was struck by the poverty all around him. He said Guatemala's Ravine is a huge valley with lean-to houses made from cinder blocks and tin on the side of a ridge. He said the Ravine, with an estimated population of 1 million, is run by drug lords and gangs and that the people are forgotten because no one goes there. But the children living in the Ravine are able to go to camp through AMG International sponsorships.
"Going to camp is potentially a life-changing event for them," said Petty. "There are a lot of broken homes and absent fathers in Guatemala. You recognize the need and your heart pours out to the children."
Headquartered in Chattanooga, AMG International is an evangelical Christian missionary agency ministering to those in need in approximately 40 countries around the world. Founded in 1942, AMG's mission is to provide hope through Jesus Christ.
• To register online to ride in Miles for Missions, visit here. To learn more about the fundraiser, contact Jeff Fava at Associated Builders at 423-593-8676. To learn more about AMG International, visit www.amginternational.org. The cost to enter the race is $35 for an individual, $55 for a couple and $70 for a family of three or more.
• Miles for Missions will take place at the Chickamauga Battlefield in Fort Oglethorpe Oct. 8 from 9 a.m. to noon. Coming from Chattanooga, head south on Lafayette Road, then take a right on Dyer Road just before the log cabin. Follow that road until it ends at Chickamauga-Vittetoe Road. Take a left and the parking lot is across the street at the next intersection. This is the recreation field parking lot where bicyclists will meet for the race.
The five-mile loop Miles for Missions cyclists will travel includes Glenn-Kelly Road, Battleline Road, Poe Road and Glenn-Viniard Road inside Chickamauga Battlefield. Bicyclists will be able to view Snodgrass Field, Kelly Field, Brotherton Field, Glenn Field and Dyer Field. The Kelly House, Poe Cabin, Brotherton Cabin, Wilder Brigade Monument, Rosecrans Headquarters and Snodgrass House will be along the race route as well.