2013 3000 Miles for Peace Event

From March through September 2013, the 3000 Miles for Peace campaign got people moving in honor of Paul Ziegler, a young peacebuiler who died tragically on his bicycle in a highway accident in September, 2012.  Paul had planned to ride his bike 3000 miles across the continent in the summer of 2015 as a witness for peace, gathering fellow riders along the way and raising funds for building peace. 

On Earth Peace worked with Paul's family to plan the 3000 Miles for Peace campaign in Paul's honor.   Inspired by his life and his planned epic ride, over 1,500 people took part in more than 50 local events which included biking, walking, canoeing, hiking, running, as well as dribbling soccer balls, rocking chairs and lifting weights.  It was clear that whatever activity they chose, people saw their participation in the campaign as an expression of their belief in the importance of peace in our world.  


People of all ages participated in the campaign, including significant leadership contributions from young adults in organizing events and helping to run the peer-to-peer blogging and fundraising platforms needed to support the campaign. 

Here are some comments from campaign organizers and participants:

From a two-day bike ride in Illinois:  “Our riders rallied around the vision of fellow cyclist Paul Ziegler. We believe in his vision and wanted to contribute to the campaign in the way we know best, by cycling.”  

From a youth conference in Virginia:  "We walked through and around campus with signs supporting peace activism and peace education.  It was so exciting to see the interaction between the youth and the community as people and vehicles we passed would throw up peace signs, wave, or honk in our direction as we joyfully filed past!  The youth were equally excited to be able to be a part of this nationwide movement, and to provide a bit of a peace witness to the other youth at Roundtable and the greater Bridgewater community.”

From a congregational walk in Maryland:  “The day was good, with great weather and fine spirits. At each of four stops, we shared another aspect of On Earth Peace's work, ate some snacks, and visited with the hosting family before going on.  For us, it worked as a way to learn more about and support On Earth Peace while having a fun time together.”

From another Maryland congregation, which held a "Rock-a-thon for Peace:"   "For those who participated in the event there was a real feeling of unity and peace, doing something in the name of Peace.  I believe what we gained from the event was having people participate who never before were involved in a peace event." 

From a neighborhood fair held by a congregation in Colorado:  "Our Passing on Peacemaking Committee created the event as a way to bring our peacemaking message into the community.  Turnout was great, with people from the neighborhood stopping by, and friends of parishioners joining us."

All together, these efforts covered more than 10,000 miles, and raised over $150,000 for the work of peacebuilding in communities across the country and beyond. Part of the funds raised were used to create the Paul Ziegler Young Peacebuilders Fund which will continue to receive contributions and will make possible new efforts in peace education and active nonviolence.

Most of the campaign events were organized by youth groups, congregations, camps, retirement communities and bicycle groups, including some long-distance bike rides.  Others were individual walks and rides, some of which covered hundreds of miles.  

A central event of the campaign was the 652-mile trek by Bob Gross, walking from his hometown of North Manchester, Indiana, to Paul’s home congregation, the Elizabethtown Church of the Brethren in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. In his 44 days on the road, Bob met with 30 groups along the way and attracted over 500 supporters to donate to the campaign. 

At the end of his walk, Bob joined with the Elizabethtown congregation in a major fundraising event on May 4, in which 150 people walked and biked more than 1500 miles.  It was followed the next day by a service of celebration and remembrance, honoring Paul Ziegler on his birthday and recognizing the campaign's accomplishments so far.  “In a world where we are constantly bombarded by the bad news of guns, drones, bombs, wars, and domestic violence we just lived the good news of faith and peace,” commented Elizabethtown pastor Greg Davidson Laszakovits by e-mail after the weekend. “Inspired by Paul’s vision, refusing to feel powerless against an often violent world, we saw that we can and do make a difference; one step, one pedal revolution, one person at a time.”

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  • Marie Benner-Rhoades
    published this page in Blog 2024-04-25 09:01:23 -0400
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