NUMB XXIV returned to Chadron, Nebraska, the site where the first NUMB Ride in 1996 took place, and it was on this route that the ride surpassed the $1 million mark.
NUMB — the Nebraska United Methodist Bike Ride for Hunger — is directed by the Rev. Bill Ritter, the Blue River and Elkhorn Valley District Superintendent who retired at the 2019 Annual Conference.
“Back in 1996, I had 36 riders who started a 500-plus-mile ride from Chadron to Elkhorn for the first NUMB” Ritter said. “NUMB 24 had over 140 folks take off from Chadron for our stops in Crawford, Alliance and Rushville.”
The first NUMB brought in less than $10,000 for the hunger projects NUMB supports. Regina Bergman, of Elkhorn, serves as NUMB director of administrative services. She announced that NUMB XXIV is approaching $60,000, which brings the total that NUMB has raised over the years for hunger to $1,034,000.
The theme for the 2019 NUMB was “Thanks a Million” since this was the NUMB that surpassed the $1 million mark given to the Nebraska Food Banks, Heifer International, Society of St. Andrew and Africa University Agriculture training program.
The United Methodist churches of Chadron, Crawford, Alliance and Rushville hosted the riders and staff and were assisted by the congregations of Whitney and Harrison. The host communities provided areas for camping, showers and restrooms and breakfast and dinner. NUMB Route Director Greg Bakewell of Omaha reported that NUMB has now stayed in 101 different communities and have been hosted by 98 United Methodist churches while riding through all 93 counties of Nebraska.
Bakewell made sure riders noted the numerous historical signs of northwest Nebraska. By doing so, riders learned the history of the buffalo soldiers of Fort Robinson, the potash boom town of Antioch and the story of Chief Dull Knife and many more points of interest along the route.
Riders noted with awe the beauty of this area of the state and the minor miracle of the wind shifting to our backs for three days in a row on this circle route.
Each evening Social Director Nina Clark, of Omaha featured the various talents of our riders who came from Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, West Virginia and Wyoming. More than half of the NUMB riders are older than 60, with the oldest rider being 77. Sixty-six women and 77 men started the ride this year. People from many different denominations and faiths took part in the NUMB ride, including many who would be considered to be “unchurched.”
All were people brought together by the idea of making a difference in this world in the area of hunger.
“The ride was very special this year,” Ritter said. “The weather was beautiful, the hosts were wonderful, and the scenery was breath taking. It was great to break the $1 million mark. When I started this ride back in 1996, I could not even dream that one day we would raise this amount of money.”