Everyone has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. For some, it has been a nuisance. For others, it has been devastating.

For Dr. Joshua Zink, an assistant professor of music at Sullivan Foundation partner school Carson-Newman University, seeing so many in need has led him to want to do something about it.

That is why on Saturday, Oct. 3, Zink plans to ride his bike some 100 miles, from Johnson City, Tenn., to downtown Knoxville, to raise funds for Carson-Newman’s Appalachian Outreach (AO). He’s seeking donors to help support the effort, with all money raised going to the outreach ministry.

Carson-Newman is one of the few schools in the nation that runs its own poverty-relief ministry. AO serves people in need throughout eastern Tennessee with food, clothing, firewood, counseling, spiritual guidance and other services. The university also operates its own family shelter called the Samaritan House, whose coverage spans Jefferson, Grainger, Hamblen and Cocke Counties.

“Cycling 100 miles for Appalachian Outreach would be very meaningful to me,” Zink said. “During this time of COVID-19, so many people are hurting in serious ways. I wanted to find a way to help in an impactful way.”

Zink said that choosing Appalachian Outreach was a no-brainer after seeing how much the ministry has been helping people around the region, especially during the pandemic. One of the biggest ways the ministry is having an impact is through its food distribution efforts for families in need.

“We have all been in times of need in various ways in our lives,” Zink said. “I know that, in my own times of struggle, God put people in place to help when I needed it most. This challenge is a great way to assist a wonderful organization’s ministry right here in our own backyard.”

Jean-Ann Washam, director of AO, said the timing could not be better, as the ministry has seen an increase in demand by the hundreds compared to the same time the previous year. “Because of COVID-19, we are looking at having to cancel our annual banquet, which is our largest fundraiser,” Washam said. “That makes sponsorships for Dr. Zink’s Century Ride that much more important.”

An avid runner and marathon competitor, Zink said that, when the pandemic forced competitions to cancel events, he began looking for a new outlet that catered to endurance. Biking seemed to be the perfect option.

Those who want to contribute may give online at https://zinkj25.wixsite.com/aocenturyride

For more information, call 865-471-3408 or email Zink at jzink@cn.edu.

This article has been edited slightly from the original version appearing on the Carson-Newman University website.

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