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Probation Officer Finishes 3,200-Mile Cross Country "Bike for Bread" Ride

WILLIMANTIC Ray Aramini survived buffeting headwinds, drought-likeRay and friends approach the finish line with police escort conditions with temperatures soaring well above 100 degrees, hail and rain storms and seven broken spokes to complete his 3,269-mike "Bike for Bread" trek across country Sunday, July 30th.

When Aramini, a juvenile probation officer for the State of Connecticut Judicial Branch, pedaled into his hometown of Willimantic Sunday afternoon, hundreds of helmeted cyclists joined him for the final two miles. He received a hero’s welcome at Heritage Park and even the rain failed to dampen spirits.

At that moment, he realized that was the highlight of his trip.

Ray rides toward the end of his long trek"Coming home to the support and outpouring from the citizens of Willimantic and the state was tremendous," said Aramini, 35. "I never realized the impact of what I’d done until I looked into the faces of my neighbors, friends and family."

Aramini, who raised $65,000 in 1996 for the Covenant Soup Kitchen in Willimantic by riding from the border of Canada through all the New England states, planned this cross country trek to raise consciousness and financial support nationwide for all of Connecticut’s poor and hungry.

Aramini faced what he said was one of his two toughest days of cycling—where there was a drastic gain in altitude from below sea level to hundreds of feet above—when he began his journey on July 24th in San Francisco. "I figured it must be all downhill after that," Aramini told talk show hosts Ray Dunaway in a Monday interview on WTIC-AM radio.

Aramini’s financial goal was to raise $300,000 for his organization, BikeRay receives congratulations for Bread, which would then distribute money to the Connecticut FoodBank, Connecticut FoodShare and the Covenant Soup Kitchen, of which he is a board member.

Though the total has yet to be tallied, Aramini believes that his goal has been reached.

"People look at Connecticut as a wealthy state and do not realize that there are poor and starving people here."

When asked by the talk show hosts who these "poor and starving people are", Aramini paused, then said, choking back tears, "They are you and I under different circumstances—people who have experienced bad luck and because of substance abuse, childhood trauma or other difficulties cannot recover."

On his journey, Aramini averaged between 110 and 120 miles per day, traversing 14 states. Aside from the difficult opening day, "horrific" winds in Nebraska slowed Aramini somewhat. But not even wind or hail nor rain could stay this courier from his plight.

On the entire trip Aramini remembered something a 9-year-old boy told Ray thanks his supportershim during his 1996 fundraising trip—"Feeding hungry people is a very important thing."

That simple statement struck deep inside of Aramini and, since then, he has dedicated himself to achieving his goal of raising awareness for the hungry as well as money to feed them.

"Though it does put food on the table, in the end money is not the answer," said Aramini. "Anyone can feed a mouth, but when you feed a heart, that’s the important thing."

Those who would like to learn more about Bike for Bread can visit the website at http://www.bikeforbread.org or call 860-450-8000.



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