A Washington State pastor who has recently had open-heart surgery will be biking across the United States for the benefit of raising money for diapers.
Eric Shadle of Seventh-day Adventist Church in Richland will begin the 3,700 mile on Sunday, with the proceeds going to a local diaper bank.
In an interview with The Christian Post, Shadle explained that he was doing the bike trip during a planned sabbatical to "raise awareness about the need for diapers."
"I wanted to do something that could take the conversation across the country and raise money as well as awareness," said Shadle. "This is a national issue, and one in which I believe that followers of Jesus should be on the forefront of helping to solve. And that's because this is a family issue."
Shadle began biking last September. Training for his bike across country was interrupted in February when he had to have open-heart surgery.
"This is a cause greater than me," said Shadle, who talked about how many lower income families with infants are forced to choose between food and diapers.
"I will make it because God has called me to do this. And any pain I endure will only serve to remind me of the pain the infants & toddlers endure every day without our help."
While biking across America, the pastor will make stops at various churches to speak about the charity he is involved in. The plan is for him to arrive at the Silver Spring, Md., headquarters of the Seventh-day Adventist Church on Sept. 5. Alison Weir of the National Diaper Bank Network has been invited to meet Shadle in Silver Spring.
Weir, who serves as director of Programs for the NDBN, told The Christian Post that her recently formed organization seeks to create "a network of diaper banks."
"Since his ride helps foster our goal of raising awareness about the issue that many people cannot afford diapers, we reached out to Pastor Eric and the diaper bank staff to offer our assistance in connecting him with other diaper banks across the country," said Weir.
"So far, it seems to be a great partnership, as many diaper banks have been corresponding with the pastor about his upcoming trip."
Weir also stressed the importance of the network of diaper banks, even though the availability of diapers is an oftentimes overlooked need for low-income families.
"We often hear from food pantries and social service organizations we work with that they are surprised when they hear from their clients that their greatest need is diapers," said Weir.
"If you do not have small children, or are not reliant on food stamps and other assistance, you might be unaware that diapers are a necessary and expensive need for low-income families."
Shadle is also a board member of the Tri-Cities Diaper Bank, which has a diaper distribution center in Richland, Wash.
He is hoping to raise the funds for the purchase of 1million diapers. The National Diaper Bank Network intends to match all the donations made to the Tri-Cities Diaper Bank.