Young People in Kansas City energized by IOCC “Race to Respond”

- Excitement about the “Race to Respond” from young people has been growing over the last 13 days. It was on display again on Tuesday, Aug. 13, at Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Kansas City, Mo.

When the five cyclists of the “Race to Respond” arrived, the Rev. Charles Sarelis, pastor of Annunciation Church, showed off a banner created and signed by parish young people ages 7-17 who had recently attended the Eastern Orthodox Youth Camp.

The banner read “EOYC Welcomes IOCC” and pictured a cyclist surrounded by messages of support from the summer campers. In places such as Antiochian Village and elsewhere along the race route, the cyclists have been received enthusiastically by young people.

Stacie Sampson, camp president and Annunciation parishioner, said IOCC and the “Race to Respond” were featured as a theme throughout the camp, which ran from July 28 to Aug. 3.

This year, campers from all four age groups were required to do a service project. “The IOCC thing was just a perfect tie-in,” Ms. Sampson said. “It was something we talked about whenever we had the chance. A lot of kids were exposed to IOCC that had not been before.”

In addition to making the banner, the children also colored pictures of a cyclist that read, “My race to respond to people in need.”

The camp draws young people from the five Orthodox parishes in greater Kansas City, as well as children from surrounding states, Ms. Sampson said. “IOCC does so many wonderful things. We just need to open people’s eyes to that,” she said.

There also was broad Orthodox participation at Tuesday’s “Race to Respond” reception. Among those attending were the Rev. Nicholas Papedo, pastor of St. Dionysios Greek Orthodox Church in Overland Park, Kan., the Rev. John Platko, pastor of Holy Trinity Orthodox Church in Overland Park, Kan., the Rev. Alexander Bulgarin, pastor of St. George Serbian Orthodox Church in Kansas City, Kan., and the Rev. John Mack, campus minister at the University of Kansas in Lawrence.

The Annunciation Ladies Philoptochos Society presented the cycling team with a generous donation.

After the reception, the cyclists rode over lavishly green, rolling hills in eastern Kansas to their destination in Hiawatha, Kan.

The five volunteer cyclists are riding 3,500 miles in 25 days to raise awareness and support for the people served by IOCC, the official humanitarian aid agency of Orthodox Christians. For more information about the “Race to Respond,” visit