First United Methodist Church -- Rockville, Indiana
Illini 4000 is a group of students from the University of Illinois who ride bicycles 4000 miles from New York to the Golden Gate bridge to raise money for cancer research, camps for children with cancer, and camps for families with a child with cancer. As the groups rides across the country they have to depend on people to supply them with a place to stay and an evening meal.
For 13 years our church has been their central Indiana stopping location. Martha, and others, prepare an evening meal in which several members attend to fellowship with the students. Before the meal the kids walk down to Roach’s to swim and relax. After the meal the students usually bless us with some kind of talent. This past year 3 students took turns on the piano and graced up with a concert level performance. One student arrived early and loved to cook. He assisted Martha in the kitchen. When it came time to cook the ground beef he was lost and could not figure out how to cook it. He was a vegetarian from birth and had never cooked meat in his life.
Before the kids retire for the night they are loaded up with snacks to sustain them on their ride. The students sleep on the floor in the Chapel or a downstairs room. They are up early in the morning. We serve them breakfast and send them on their way with a blessing. Most of the students only ride 1 or 2 years and those who return tell us we are the most welcoming and loving people of all they encounter on their 2 month journey.