Contact: Kelly Vence
Public Information Office
ELIZABETH, NJ—July 31, 2014 - City of Elizabeth resident and employee, Paulo Monroy, did not know what to expect when he decided to sign up for the Freedom Ride in 2011, but when he completed his first ride, it made him want to continue on as long as he could. Since then, he has participated each year and will embark on his latest journey this Saturday.
“I was so pleased to hear that Paulo was volunteering his time to take part in this intense charity ride,” said Mayor J. Christian Bollwage. “Five hundred plus miles is no easy feat and it just proves that he is dedicated and committed to making a difference in the lives of others, in his community, and around the world.  On behalf of the City of Elizabeth, I would like to wish him the best of luck and congratulations on all that he has accomplished.  
Paulo, who was born and raised in the City of Armenia, Colombia, moved to the United States when he was just fifteen years old. Since then, he has lived in Elizabeth and attended Elizabeth High School, where he graduated in the top 100 in his class. He continues to broaden his educational horizons at Kean University. In addition, he has been an employee of the City of Elizabeth for over fifteen years in the Data Processing Department. 
The Freedom Ride is a 530-mile, seven day charity cycling challenge, which includes more than 28,000 feet of vertical climbing. A key component of the ride is to raise funds and awareness for the Po River Medical Clinic in Liberia, West Africa, as well as Pillar Missions, an Evangelical Protestant denomination, located in Zarephath, New Jersey. Pillar Missions was created to reach people through: Media, Education, Churches and Missions. 
In 2013, Steve and Jen Butwill, members of Zarephath Christian Church, first launched the Po River Medical Clinic (PRC), located in the Yarnee District of River Cess County in Liberia. The facility is the only source of quality medical care to the 9,000 people living in the area and additionally works with local villages to focus on access to clean water, proper sanitation and illness prevention education.
Liberia is a country that is still in desperate need of further development. After suffering from fourteen years of civil war, much of the population is still recovering. The health system was left in ruins following the conflict: 95% of health facilities were destroyed, and out of 400 trained government doctors available before the war, fewer than 20 remained in 2003.
“When riding a bike for 530 miles, you struggle because you are tired and you are in pain. However, that pain and struggle only lasts those seven days,” said rider Paulo Monroy. “The people we are riding for continue to struggle daily or even a lifetime. That is what motivates me to continue doing the Freedom Ride each year. They are my inspiration.”
The Freedom Ride will take place from Saturday, August 2nd to Saturday, August 9th. The trek will begin in Shenandoah Valley, Virginia, where the group of riders will average about 75 miles per day in varying terrain, along with at least two days of substantial climbing before concluding in Zarephath, NJ. 
“The first year I participated,” continued Paulo, “I rode for a ministry called Urban Impact for Girls and I still remember climbing up one of the many hills, which seemed like forever. When I got to the top of that hill, tired and exhausted, we stopped for lunch and I remember talking to another new rider, who said... “Imagine now, this was just one hill…these little girls have lived a life of suffering, this makes our hills look like nothing.” At that exact moment, I knew my riding was making a difference, which is what drives me to keep participating every year.”
To learn more about the 2014 Freedom Ride, please visit www. http://freedomride2014.com/.