Pierce saved money and bought
seven bikes for adults and three for kids and donated them to Alternative
Horizons, a Durango nonprofit providing support to survivors of
Another 3 a.m. light bulb
then flashed for Pierce: the name of the project and the logo
magically appeared. I Googled hill climb races and saw Cycle
to the Sun on Maui, she said. It reminded me of my
life, the intense challenges and obstacles I had to overcome and
the uphill battle. I imagined how everything would be good when
I got to the top. Riding and racing are accomplishments that build
stamina and strength and prove that you can overcome struggles
and challenges in life. Overcoming the abuse in my life made me
stronger and wiser.
The logo for Pierces
project shows the sun beaming down on a cyclist on top of a big
heart. The letters L-O-V-E inside the heart are colored in with
bright geometric designs and expand into Ladies Overcoming Violence
Since the 3 a.m. revelations,
the project has started taking on a life of its own. Its
still not even an official nonprofit, Pierce said. Its
just a grass roots effort gaining tremendous support from the
Early this spring, Pierce
noticed an empty field full of debris behind a domestic violence
shelter in Farmington. Susan Kimbler, director of the Navajo United
Methodist Center, was thrilled when Pierce approached her and
offered to build a trail on the property. Projects like
this are beyond our reach, Kimbler said. I wouldnt
have a clue how to even start a trails project. Then an angel
like Pierce steps forward.
Bill Stanley, former mayor
of Farmington, enlisted he help of San Juan County to haul three
dumptruck loads of construction debris, yard waste and litter.
Mary Monroe, director of Trails 2000, designed and flagged a trail
and supervised as the volunteers cut the singletrack. The residents
in the shelter then lined the course with rocks. When the
women realized the course was for them, and that they could get
outside and use it, they adopted a sense of ownership, Monroe
She added that the Farmington
project was a good fit for the Durango-based trails advocacy group.
Our mission is to create community and help people get outdoors,
so this was the perfect project for us, she said.
Reflecting on the experience
and the growth of L-O-V-E, Pierce agreed. Women who have
been abused dont get excited about much, she said.
As they worked together outdoors and saw they were accomplishing
something, the enthusiasm blossomed. They finished the whole course
in one afternoon.
Numerous other Durangoans
pitched in as well. Local architect Steve Eccher welcomed the
opportunity to get out from behind the desk and get his hands
dirty. It was very rewarding seeing the immediate results
of our work, he said. And the kids at the shelter
were so excited as we helped them learn how to ride without training
Chris Latshaw closed his
insurance office in Durango for the day to help with construction
of the singletrack. A longtime supporter of Trails 2000 and a
friend of Pierces, he took advantage of the opportunity
to give back. Ive had a passion for biking since they
took off the training wheels, he shared. There was
nothing when we got there. The biggest reward for me was seeing
the joy in the faces of the kids. They missed out on or were never
exposed to the sheer joy of just riding.
The trail has offered a new
outlet for the women and children living in the shelter, Kimbler
added. Going out is not a part of their experience,
she said. Coming from a crisis center, security is everything.
This will help them get used to going out. The women couldnt
believe that people they didnt even know would come and
do something for them. Their hearts were touched. This beautiful
space provides an escape from their lives.
As Pierce follows her heart,
support for L-O-V-E is growing. Grants from Wal-Mart, Merrion
Oil and other local businesses are helping with the purchase of
bikes and helmets. Cycling shops in Durango, Farmington and Aztec
are now accepting donations of new and used bikes. My next
goal is to get a good solid number of bikes for each shelter and
for each woman who leaves the shelter and wants to take one with
her, she said. I also want volunteers to help women
ride and get them into cycling.
Once the pedals start moving,
the experience speaks for itself. Riding means lots of different
things to different people, Pierce said. For these
grown women who have never ridden a bike, it provides a sense
of freedom. As a means of transportation, it creates independence
and increases self-esteem and confidence.
Thanks to the effort, numerous
women and children are now on the trail to recovery. The
outdoor experience is new for some women, and they were a little
nervous at first, Pierce said. But one woman jumped
on a bike and took off around the track. She came back and gave
me a big hug with a huge smile, and thats all the thanks
L-O-V-E is in need of financial
support, new and used bike donations and volunteers. For more
information on the project or to help, e-mail Shantelle Pierce