Doug Shope, Founder of Ernie’s Ride, Seeks to Give Children with Down Syndrome a Chance at Life with 320-Mile Bike Ride

(Photo: The 2018 Ernie’s Ride team – Left to right: Doug Shope, Brian Messer, Tim Settlage and Chad Settlage)

A group of devoted cyclists are gearing up for Ernie’s Ride, where they will travel hundreds of miles along the Ohio To Erie Trail from Cincinnati to Cleveland, committed to a message that “every life matters.” The riders are set to take off on Friday morning.

Doug Shope, Lebanon resident, cyclist and Ernie’s Ride founder said he started the ride in 2014 in honor of his Uncle Ernie Nicholson, who was born with Down Syndrome.

“I thought about my Uncle Ernie and how much he was a blessing to me. You can read Uncle Ernie’s story online at www.erniesride.com/meeternie. God used him to teach me, early in life, that all people aren’t the same as me – that God created everybody differently,” he said.

Shope said what he hopes to do is “save lives.” All of the monies raised from the event go toward helping local families.

“In early 2014, I read an article that stated that, in Iceland, there had been no babies born with Down Syndrome in the previous nine years. It isn’t that they found a cure. You see, they have mandatory prenatal screening for Down. And all of the parents whose children tested positive for it were terminated before birth. In the U.S. and other countries, when a prenatal screening shows positive for Down Syndrome, the results are often the same as Iceland. I thought about my Uncle Ernie and how much he loved and valued me. I had been planning some long rides and thought, ‘If I’m going to do this (a long ride) anyway, I ought to try to help someone by doing it.’ Helping people choose life for their baby – no matter if the challenges are physical, mental, societal, or whatever – this is the goal of Ernie’s Ride. These centers help parents choose life and help them as they raise this child they have chosen to love. Every one of these children has immense value. While they may be different, it doesn’t make them any less. They are just as valuable as someone who doesn’t have Down Syndrome. They’re just different and God uses all of us, and each of our differences to help us learn and grow as human beings,” Shope said.

The event is held the first weekend in August, near Nicholson’s birthday. He was born on August 3, 1943. Ernie’s Ride will raise awareness and funds for two area organizations, Community Pregnancy Center in Middletown and Elizabeth’s New Life Center in Lebanon. This year’s ride will be held on Friday, August 2 through Sunday, August 4. Seven riders will complete up to a 320-mile distance between the Ohio River, in Cincinnati, and Lake Erie, in Cleveland, during the three-day event.

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SOURCE: Assist News