Early on Saturday morning, Alen Gharibian put on a helmet and stood over his bicycle, ready to go on a ride over a trail in Glendale.
He was in the company of more than 100 neighbors and family friends, all of whom supported a cause initiated by a local teenager: giving bicycles to children in orphanages.
“I definitely want to help them out in any way that I can,” Gharibian, 43, said. “It's a great cause. I wish all kids would think like him.”
Sebouh Bazikian, a senior at St. Francis High School, raised money to deliver 43 new bicycles to children at the Macha Orphanage in Kenya in August after hearing that students had to travel an hour on foot to get to school.
The effort was a success, and now he has plans to deliver more bicycles to different countries in need.
Saturday's event, which led more than 100 hikers and cyclists along the Catalina Verdugo Trail, will support the purchase of 50 bicycles for orphans in Armenia. Many of the attendees were students at St. Francis and wore matching spandex bike jerseys. The hikers wore T-shirts that were embellished with the group's logo.
Tricia Hamilton, who coaches the St. Francis mountain bike team, led a group of intermediate cyclists on the trail.
“I think it's amazing because it's turning a passion into a good cause,” she said.
Bazikian's group, Bikes 4 Orphans — which recently merged with the organization Focus on Children — netted almost $5,000 in donations at the event.
Bazikian said he was surprised at the large turnout and support for his cause. “If more than 40 people showed up, that would have been amazing.”
Helping out children in Armenia is important to him, he said, because he is of Armenian decent. “I wasn't born there, but I feel a strong connection to it.”
The bikes will be distributed among multiple orphanages in the country.
Alex Chraghchian, a senior at Clark Magnet High School, has helped Bazikian with the cause.
“The response has been really good,” said Chraghchian. “Everyone has been really supportive.”
ALSO:Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun