Gruelling ride to help needy

By Kiri Gillespie


When the Salvation Army's David Smith finds his legs cramping, back aching and sweat dripping off his face, he reminds himself of the people reliant on the organisation's help and pushes on.

Mr Smith is on a mission to cycle across the North Island in a fundraising drive to raise money for the army's community ministries. He arrived in Tauranga city yesterday.

The army public relations co-ordinator spent seven hours cycling from Opotiki, and avoided State Highway 2 roadworks at Te Maunga by travelling along Papamoa Beach Rd.

The "Tour de Sallies" mission began in Wellington on February 7 and is expected to finish in Wellington on March 1, after Mr Smith covers 2600km in 23 days.

"Knock wood I haven't had to get out and push yet."

Mr Smith said there was a patch of 10-15km on yesterday's trip where the sea breeze slowed him down and he began to question whether his mission was such a good idea.

"But it's a two-fold thing. It's a personal challenge for me ... and I became aware two years ago when I spent time in Christchurch of the needs people have.

"Not just earthquake related but social needs that aren't being met by governmental or social services. The Salvation Army is there to pick up the pieces and help people get a handle on their lives.

Mr Smith was joined by wife Tracy Smith who drove the Salvation Army Community Care van.

He planned to ride to Miranda, near Thames, today before heading to Auckland's Red Beach on Saturday.

Mr Smith aimed to raise $40,000 for the community ministries, which provide food parcels, budgeting advice, life skills and other comfort and support for people throughout New Zealand.

After a gruelling ride yesterday, Mr Smith was keen to focus on one of Tauranga's best assets.

"I'm really looking forward to going back to Papamoa Beach and having a nice soak in the cool sea and then just chilling out for the evening."

To donate to the "Tour de Sallies" visit www.fundraiseonline.co.nz/tdes.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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