Sidney woman to bicycle around Lake Michigan for Alpha Family Center

By Elisabeth Waldon • Last Updated 10:23 am on Friday, September 13, 2013

Laura Thompson of Sidney is preparing to ride her bicycle 700 miles around Lake Michigan in the coming week to raise $5,000 for Alpha Family Center in Greenville. — Courtesy photo

GREENVILLE — Laura Thompson is the executive director of the Alpha Family Center, as well as a wife and a mother of four.

When it comes to making time for exercise, she’s not exactly a bicycle enthusiast.

So why is she riding her bicycle 700 miles around Lake Michigan next week?

Thompson, 32, of Sidney, is hoping to raise $5,000 for the Alpha Family Center in Greenville. She is participating in the fifth annual Ride4Life hosted by Lakeshore Pregnancy Center. The ride begins Saturday and continues through the following Saturday, Sept. 21.

Lakeshore Pregnancy Center, which has offices in Allegan, Allendale, Grand Haven and Holland will have nine riders participating, while Thompson will be the lone representative for Alpha Family Center and the Montcalm County area. Each rider is attempting to raise $5,000 for their organization.

“Alpha’s mission statement is ‘Promoting Life … Strengthening Families,’” Thompson said. “I want to do all we can to strengthen families in our local communities. If it means riding 700 miles on a bike, I am up for the challenge.”

Thompson was inspired to participate in Ride4Life after being encouraged to do so by Lakeshore Pregnancy Center Executive Director Carolyn Doyle. She decided to take the challenge after her husband, Nathan, confirmed he would watch their four children, Faith, 7, Lucas, 6, Trevor, 4 and Abigail, 2, while she was gone for the week.

“My husband and kids have been a great encouragement,” Thompson said. “Every morning my kids wake up and eagerly ask if I’ve gone biking yet for the day. Definitely the hardest thing for me will be leaving my husband and kids.”

Thompson has been executive director of Alpha Family Center almost nine years. The center’s goal is to positively impact the choices of women and men facing unplanned pregnancy.

“Every day, clients enter our doors burdened with the challenges of life,” Thompson said. “Yes, Ride4Life is a challenge, but nothing compared to what these families experience every single day.”

Thompson has been training with other cyclists since last spring to ready herself for the ride

“This has been a big task for me, to be disciplined and trained,” she said. “I have gotten enough training that I’m confident I’m ready for the ride. I have been blessed with an amazing supportive family, great training and amazing bike gear. I feel ready, yet know the days will be long and both physically and mentally draining. I have faith that God will give me the strength to complete this task I am doing for him and the ministry of Alpha Family Center.”

The route for cyclists participating in Ride4Life is as follows: start at Norton Shores and head north, take a ferry across the lake to Milwaukee, ride north along the Wisconsin shoreline, head east through the Upper Peninsula, south toward Traverse City and Ludington and end up in Norton Shores. Cyclists are hoping to average from 70 to 115 miles per day, depending on the day. They will have a van following them to help out with any problems and an RV going ahead of them to set up support stations and arrange hotel accommodations.

As Thompson challenges herself, she also challenges members of the community to help her meet her financial goal for Alpha Family Center. Call the center at (616) 225-2265 or write to the center at 117 E. Montcalm St., Greenville, Mich. 48838 for more information.

Follow the cyclists for daily updates, photographs and more at online.

Visit and online for more information about the pregnancy centers.

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