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The third annual Pedals for Compassion, a charity bike ride that benefits the domestic violence shelter in Columbia County, is scheduled for June 19 and more bikers are encouraged to join in on the ride.

Signing up for the event is easy and can be done HERE or on the day of the ride at Square Park in Magnolia.

Registration is $65 before June 19 and $70 on the day of the ride.

Debra Martin, Executive Director of the Compassion’s Foundation Domestic Violence Shelter, said last year’s event was incredible, even with the pandemic. The event had 150 participants and raised around $17,000.

“We are hoping with the good weather and relaxed COVID-19 restrictions to have even more riders this year,” Martin said.

This year’s event begins at 7:30 a.m. at the Magnolia Square Park on 117 North Jefferson downtown. Options for the ride include 15 miles, 35 miles, 65 miles, and 100 miles.

All riders who participate will receive swag bags, snacks, and drinks at all rest stops along their ride—which always has fun themes—and a delicious post-ride meal. Door prizes from generous area businesses will also be given away.

Postmasters Grill of Camden provides the meal for riders as they head back to the Square at the conclusion of their ride. Three bands, The Tuesday Knights, 79 South, and The Vybe will perform on the Magnolia Square for entertainment beginning at 10 a.m.

Community members who do not participate in the ride are still invited to bring their lawn chairs and enjoy the music. Admission for non-riders to the square will be $5 for a refreshing beer. Additionally, Postmasters Grill will have a food truck for all patrons to purchase food to enjoy while they listen to the bands.

Jeff Neill, an avid cycler from Magnolia said the Pedals for Compassion ride surprises some of the newcomers because they are not expecting it to be challenging. However, Southwest Arkansas includes hills they aren’t counting on, he said. As someone who participates in charity rides across the country, Neill said this one is known to him and other cyclists as one of the most supported and safest ones to participate in.

“I want to get behind this charity because these individuals need to find a place they can be safe again,” he said.

The Compassion’s Foundation provides lifesaving tools and immediate support to empower domestic violence victims and survivors to find safety and live free of abuse. Throughout the year,  the nonprofit holds other fundraisers beyond the bike ride, but this event leads the way in fundraising opportunities.

Lesley Thompson, ride Event D director, said Pedals for Compassion draws riders from the Magnolia area as well as Little Rock, Dallas, and Shreveport. Last year, someone from California traveled more than 1,500 miles to ride. She said she consistently hears good feedback.

“We draw on everything good that they feel is always lacking at other events, some of which is the quality of and excitement of the rest stops,” Thompson said. “The detail put into the route marks and visual awareness of support, both from law enforcement and support drivers are something else they like. They also like the post activities at the square.”

Charlie’s Story

There are many stories of hope with the Compassion’s Foundation. One woman goes by Charlie, and she said she was put through a window, had her teeth knocked out, and had a gun put to her head before she found out she could go to the Compassion’s shelter for help.

Charlie, who goes by that name to have her real identity protected, is not from Arkansas and had never heard of Compassion’s Foundation until 2019. She was 51 when she arrived for help and said she had never known what a shelter was until then.

It was there she met Compassion’s Shelter Manager Lacey Ogle and discovered services that not only nurtured her physical body such as food and clothing but also addressed her livelihood such as helping her find a job so she could become independent.

“If it wasn’t for Lacey and Compassion’s, I’d probably be dead,” Charlie said.

Ogle said Charlie is one of the success stories of Compassion’s Foundation domestic violence shelter.

“She was living in her car when she came to us,” Ogle said. “She arrived back in 2019 and exited roughly a month later on her own two feet independently. She had her own place and a job and was one of the most strong-willed women we had ever seen. She blew us away to be exact.”

Charlie said she remembers trying to hide out from her ex-husband and living in her car with her dog and no money because while they were married, he forced her to give him all her wages from her job.

“I was living in the car with my dog and didn’t have anything to eat,” Charlie said. “I was in front of this pizza place, and I had to go to ask them for a couple of pieces of pizza. I was starving to death. I don’t know what would have happened without the Compassion’s Foundation.”


For all other questions about the Pedals for Compassion event, please contact Lesley Thompson at (870-918-7755), Anne Couch at annecouch808@gmail.com, or the Pedals event email at pedals4compassion@gmail.com.

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Becky Bell is an award-winning newspaper writer who has worked at numerous newspapers including the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and the Texarkana Gazette. Prior to becoming a freelance journalist, Becky worked in the Communications Department at Southern Arkansas University and served as University Editor. While working there, she also received a Master’s in public administration.

She is a dog lover and lives with her dog, Queenie Belle, a rescue Papillon-mix, in Magnolia, Arkansas. In her spare time, she volunteers for the Stew Pot at the United Methodist Church and attends Trinity Baptist Church. She also serves on the board of Compassion's Foundation Inc., which helps victims of domestic violence. She was born in Texarkana, Texas, and attended Texas High School where she first started writing stories for the Tiger Times.

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