Platinum-selling, Dove Award-winning recording artist Mark Schultz is on a bike ride across the country to raise support for orphans and widows.
Schultz embarked on the "Across America" bike ride on Sunday and said the ride became progressively difficult as he found himself riding through 40 mile-per-hour winds, up steep inclines and in 90-degree heat.
"That was one of the hardest things I've ever done in my life," said Schultz. "Coming up on those last eight miles I think I pulled over about every two miles and I just yelled at myself, 'You can do this! You CAN do this!'"
Schultz will bicycle through to early July, starting from California and heading all the way to New Hampshire. He will stop along the way to perform concerts featuring music from his acclaimed, best-selling album, Broken & Beautiful.
"My wheels are turning to actually get somewhere," Schultz said.
His inspiration to make the 3,500-mile trek came from a visit he and his wife Kate made to orphanages in Mexico. In the spring of 2006, they went on a mission trip with The James Fund, a non-profit organization founded by Family Christian Stores, to meet the needs of orphans and widows in distress.
"I went to visit some orphanages last spring and hang out with the kids, and I thought, how can I raise money for these kids?" recalled Schultz.
"It seemed like nobody in the music business had ever done a tour where they rode their bike across the country and did concerts. I thought, 'That sounds impossible. Let's do that!'
"The exciting thing for me is that on this bike tour, even though I'm riding my bike alone across the country, so many sponsors have come alongside to help make this thing happen. I really feel that it is a team event because without them, I wouldn't be able to do this."
Steve Biondo, president of The James Fund, said the organization is honored to have Schultz join them as an advocate for the fatherless and the widow.
"Mark's heart is like ours in that we desire to touch the lives of orphans and widows," he commented. "Together we want to bring the news of Jesus Christ to these dear ones wherever we come in contact with them. We want to give them care for today and hope for eternity.
"This is the Father's heart for the fatherless and widows," Biondo added, "and it is the passion Family Christian Stores Foundation, The James Fund, shares with Mark."
The "Across America" bike ride follows Schultz's recent trip to Washington where he was a featured performer at the "Angels In Adoption" gala and shared the stage with Darryl "DMC" McDaniels, Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite of Florida, Idaho Senator Larry Craig, and other distinguished guests and elected officials. During the gala, Schultz performed "Everything To Me," which is the story of his own adoption. Schultz will perform the song during concert stops along the bike ride.