Pastor peddling coast to coast for Mali women and children

PLATTSBURGH One local pastor will peddle from coast to coast to help women and children he's never met, thousands of miles away. And, he's hoping the generosity of area residents will help achieve his goal. The Rev. Bruce Overstreet, pastor of the Plattsburgh Christian Missionary Alliance, is preparing to spend approximately eight weeks this spring fulfilling a childhood desire and supporting a hospital in Western Africa at the same time. I have wanted to cycle across the country since I was a kid, the Cadyville pastor explained, but I didnt want it to just be a ride. I wanted to accomplish something constructive. A personal friend who owns an engineering firm in Utica brought the plight of women and children in the overseas country of Mali to Rev. Overstreets attention. Overstreets friend has been making several annual trips to Mali to help build and expand the first hospital in the city of Koutiala, a hospital for women and children. The project began in 2006. Mali is among the poorest countries in the world, and was recently listed as one of the neediest countries with regard to health care issues by the World Health Organization. One out of four children die before the age of 5, and 1 in 10 women die during childbirth. The new CMA hospital in Koutiala is bringing hope and help to women and children who are flocking to the hospital in increasing numbers. Plans are now under way to construct, equip and staff a third large maternity ward this spring. The Rev. Overstreets purpose for peddling is to raise $1 million for the hospital. Everybody loves kids, said the Rev. Overstreet, who is a father of four. So, to make this ride something that will benefit kids and their mothers and families is an incredible opportunity. This hospital is another way that we have to express the love of Christ to people in desperate need. The plan for the cycling trip began to take form last summer. It was then Rev. Overstreet cycled 5,000 miles, including a cycling trip from Cadyville to Rome. This trip gave him confidence in his ability to peddle across the country. He is currently working out several days a week at the local YMCA, spinning and lifting weights. His starting point will be Clam Beach, Calif., June 2. His 21-year-old son, Isaac, will be his support person, following his father in an older motor home that has been generously donated to the cause. The final destination point is Old Orchard Beach on the coast of Maine. The Rev. Overstreet is now accepting donations and pledges toward his goal. I am challenging individuals to pledge per mile toward this goal. Just $1 per mile would mean $4,000 dollars for the hospital. Even one penny per mile would mean $40 toward this goal. Whether you pledge a penny, a dollar or any other appropriate amount, you have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of many women and children throughout the land of Mali, he stated. One hundred percent of all pledge money will go to the hospital. The Rev. Overstreet is also accepting sponsorship support and donations from individuals and organizations to defray the basic expenses of the trip. Any sponsorship money above his basic expenses would also go directly to the hospital. All funds will be administered through the North Country Alliance Church to ensure financial integrity and accountability. Collected pledges are sent out as they are received to the Orchard Foundation in Colorado Springs, Colo., which is funding the hospitals expansion project. More information may be found on-line at www.theorchard.org. Donations and pledges may be mailed to North Country Alliance Church, 7 Northern Ave., Plattsburgh, N.Y. 12903. Donors are asked to specify if the money is a donation for general expenses or a pledge to be sent directly to the hospital. Updates on the Rev. Overstreets trip may be found on his Web site, www.bike4mali.org. To learn more about the Koutiala Hospital, visit www.koutialahospital.org .

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