Eight-year-old C.J. Burford of Walkerton loves to ride his bike, but biking is not just a pastime for him. Instead, biking is something he does with a purpose — for the glory of God and to help others in need.
For over a week now, Burford has been pedaling across the state in an effort to raise money — and awareness — for Samaritan’s Purse which describes itself as “a nondenominational evangelical Christian organization providing spiritual and physical aid to hurting people around the world.”
Burford’s journey brought him through Sampson County, namely Newton Grove, on Thursday, May 23.
As he entered the town with a police escort, a group of locals were on hand to greet him as he biked around the traffic circle. They cheered and held up signs that read “Good Luck C.J.!”
Everyone eventually made their way to the Newton Grove First Baptist Church where Burford and his family mingled with the well-wishers.
More than happy to chronicle his 360-mile journey thus far, Burford said, “I dipped my back wheel in a mud puddle in Tennessee and I’m going to dip my front wheel in the ocean when we get to the coast.”
By Thursday, Burford, his parents Craig and Katie, and family friend Bernie Molenda had been biking for 10 days and had approximately 90 miles, or three days, left to go.
They shared that, so far on their journey, they had had few difficulties. “The weather has been awesome,” said Katie. “We have avoided the rain for the most part…It’s like God is cupping his hand over this whole thing.”
Burford noted, however, that dealing with bugs and crossing the Blue Ride Mountains had been challenging. “It was hard going uphill. Going downhill in the mountains is easy.”
Burford is spending all this time and energy traveling the roads of North Carolina to raise funds for a specific Samaritan’s Purse project — the Children’s Heart Project.
“My goal is to raise $8,800,” shared Burford. “This is enough to help four children get heart surgery. I choose this number because there are four kids in my family, but it would be awesome to raise more.”
According to Katie, Burford has raised about 70% of his total goal so far.
To learn more about the Children’s Heart Project, the youngster encouraged others to visit www.samaritanspurse.org/what-we-do/childrens-heart-project-2.
Although only in the third grade, Burford is already an experienced cyclist and fundraiser, having previously done three similar bike rides over the past few years.
It all started when Burford was around 6 years old and he heard the song “Do Everything” by Steven Curtis Chapman.
“I got to thinking about it, how it said that you should do everything for the glory of God and not for man. I asked my mom if that meant that I was supposed to ride my bike for Jesus and she said yes,” recounted Burford. ” She had no idea what she was getting into.”
“I just finally gave in,” Katie responded.
For his first ride, Burford biked 30 miles across Forsyth County and raised $5,000 for missionaries in Africa. The money, he said, helped build a medical clinic in Kenya.
Burford followed that successful trip with a bike ride from Winston-Salem to Charlotte, which is about 80 miles, in support of the Ronald McDonald House.
Last April, Burford’s third ride took him 315 miles along the North Carolina coast from the Virgina state line to the South Carolina state line. On this ride, he raised money for the Samaritan’s Purse Turn on the Tap water project.
To keep up with Burford on his bike rides and to learn more about his past rides, visit his Facebook page at www.facebook.com/cjs.rides.for.a.reason.
This past Thursday, fourteen year old Offie Campbell, a boyscout with Troop 71, was a part of Burford’s fourth ride, welcoming Burford to Newton Grove and offering his support. “I think it’s good what he’s doing.”
“I’m just so impressed that a child his age puts living for Christ as such a high priority,” said Newton Grove citizen Joyce Herring. “I mean, we tend to think that we’re only one person, what difference can we make? But here’s this one little boy making a real difference.”
Even though he had not yet completed his current bike ride, Burford was already talking about the plans he has for his next, and fifth, bike ride. He hopes to complete a cross country journey next year to raise money for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital and to ultimately spread God’s love.
“I want to dip my back wheel in the ocean in Los Angeles and then end the ride in Washington, D.C.,” said Burford. “I want to meet the president.”
To ask questions or find out more about making donations, please contact Katie Burford at 336-577-7982 or via email at email@example.com.
Lauren Williams can be reached at 910-592-8137, ext. 117 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.