On Sept. 23, 2012, McPherson College sophomore Paul Ziegler sent a quick text to his mother: "I'm going on a bike ride to be with God."
Not long after, the student from Elizabethtown, Pa., was riding the same route his father followed as an undergrad. An oncoming vehicle crossed the centerline and struck Ziegler on his bicycle.
When responding paramedics found Ziegler — the soul of McPherson College tennis, the young man with a ready smile, the Christian deeply involved in his church and campus ministry — he was dead on the scene.
About a month after the accident, his family and friends wanted to honor him with an event centering on the cycling he loved. At the time of the accident, Ziegler was trying to ride 2,000 miles in one year in support of world peace and had logged about 800 miles. His goal was the inspiration for the first Pedals for Paul event in which 74 riders rode in and around McPherson and well exceeded Ziegler's goal by logging 1,692 miles in addition to his original 800.
The ride was such a success McPherson College has decided to make Pedals for Paul an annual event to sustain Ziegler's memory and to raise awareness for peace and cycling safety.
To that end, McPherson College is sending out this four-week series on bicycle safety and cycling health benefits, with the final part published the week before the second annual Pedals for Paul event on Oct. 5.
Pedals for Paul begins at 9:30 a.m. with a free bicycle safety rodeo for children 9 and younger at Harnly Gardens. Bring your own bicycle.
The Pedals for Paul ride also begins at 9:30 a.m. nearby on the front steps of Melhorn Science Hall, with five, 10 and 20 mile routes planned. Check-in and warm-up begins at 9 a.m. If you can't make it, log your miles and email it to Anna Ruxlow at firstname.lastname@example.org. There's no entry fee, but preregistration is required at www.mcpherson.edu/pedalsforpaul and donations are accepted for the Paul Ziegler Memorial Scholarship Fund.
At the first Pedals for Paul, Ziegler's mother commented on her son's trademark grin and said, "Maybe world peace begins with a smile."
We welcome you to participate in Pedals for Paul to honor the memory of this remarkable young man.