Two young adults—Brett Baeverstad and Summer Swisher—who are working as teachers in the youth summer program Totus Tuus being offered at parishes across the Denver Archdiocese, are writing a weekly blog about their experiences for the Denver Catholic Register. The final column by Swisher is below.
What a blessed summer is has been! I cannot believe that the Totus Tuus program has come to an end. The Lord has been so good to me and I am so grateful.
We ended our last week of Totus Tuus, July 21-25, in Rifle. The Holy Spirit was working in so many of the kids’ and teens’ hearts; it was encouraging and beautiful.
My love for teaching, for the children and for my team intensified this week. Christ was present in the suffering and the tiredness as well as the in the joy of each day.
This summer I wanted to serve and love Christ completely. All summer I desired to do great things for Christ. But as pointed out by my dear teammate Thomas, Christ does not long for us to do great things, he longs for us to be great people.
St. Francis de Sales said: “It is not always in your power to do important things: sufficient are the small things that offer themselves every hour of the day. So do them with devotion and love.” How beautifully this summer has exemplified this. The Lord longs for us to give to him every hour and every moment of our day. This summer God gave me the opportunity to see how I can serve and love him at every instance of my day. It is in being little and doing small things with great love that we can become great people.
I have made lifelong friends and met amazing people. Although I may not be able to name everything The Lord has taught me this summer, he has transformed my heart and many other hearts. What a gift this life is! Jesus abundantly blessed me with the gift of Totus Tuus!
Summer Swisher is a recent graduate of the University of Colorado in Boulder. She earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology with a minor in dance and a minor in religious studies. She loves Jesus, people and dance. This is her first year teaching Totus Tuus, for which she feels honored and blessed.
COMING UP: Team Samaritan cyclist goes ‘Everesting’ for the homeless and hungry
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When it comes to the daily sufferings of those who are homeless, there’s nothing like a 29,029-foot bike ride to keep things in perspective.
That’s exactly what Corbin Clement will be doing this Saturday, June 19, with a couple of his riding buddies as they attempt an “Everesting” ride to raise money for the Samaritan House homeless shelter in Denver. Starting at Witter Gulch Road in Evergreen, the three riders will climb Squaw Pass Road to a point in Clear Creek County and ride back down the hill for over eight laps, which amounts to roughly 190 miles in distance and the equivalent of the elevation of Mt. Everest in terms of vertical climbing – hence the name “Everesting.” Their goal is to complete the feat in 20 hours or less.
Oh, and they can’t sleep. It is, indeed, just as crazy as it sounds. Those who aren’t avid cyclists might be wondering, “How in the world do you train for something like this?”
“For training, it’s been just more or less ride as much as possible,” Clement told the Denver Catholic. “The training is structured around endurance, and that’s of course what Everesting is. It’s just a lot of peddling. So, a lot of my training so far has just been trying to ride as much as possible and ride longer high elevation rides.”
In March, an Irish cyclist set the world record for Everesting when he completed the feat in six hours and 40 minutes. Clement isn’t trying to set a record, but regardless, it’s quite a feat to undertake, even for a seasoned athlete like him, whose pedigree includes snowboarding and rock climbing.
“Our ride will be the same thing, but it’ll be pretty different,” Clement said. “We don’t have any sort of special bikes or super focused diet or a really regimented plan or a crew that’s very well-instructed on how we’re going to tackle this. I’ve read a couple of things to just kind of make it into a party — have friends come out to support you, get people to join you on certain laps…that’s kind of the approach we’re taking.”
Clement has already raised $5,200 for Samaritan House, with a current goal of $8,000. This is Clement’s first year riding for Team Samaritan, but his dad, Kevin, has ridden for the team for several years. When his dad offered to give him an extra kit and uniform, Clement accepted, but didn’t want to take it without doing something help the cause. He could’ve simply opted for a nice ride in the countryside, but he chose to do something a bit more challenging.
“For some reason, the Everesting idea popped into my head,” he explained. “I think it’s one of those things that has a little bit of shock value for people who hear about it. It’s certainly something that’s gained more popularity and visibility in the last couple of years with endurance athletes. I wanted to choose something that would actually be a challenge for myself and something that I’d have to work towards.”
Clement currently resides in Utah, but he used to live in Denver and commute by bike to work every day. During those rides to his office, which was located near Samaritan House, he would pass many homeless people and have conversations with them. This experience was also a motivating factor for his Everesting attempt for Team Samaritan.
“It’s very different when you’re on a bike versus in a car because you’re right there,” Clement said. “If you stop at a stoplight and a homeless person is on the corner, whether or not they’re panhandling or something like that, you hear the conversations, or you’ll have a conversation with them. There are things you smell or you hear or you see that you just never would if you were in a car. So, it kind of made sense, too, with the biking aspect. It’s part of my community that I’ve lived and worked in for a very long time.”
Clement’s Everesting attempt is one event in a series of endurance event’s he’s doing over the summer that culminates with the Leadville 100, a single-day mountain bike race across the Colorado Rockies. In that race, he will be riding to support young adults diagnosed with cancer by raising funds for First Descents.
Both causes are near to Clement’s heart, and he said that while his Everesting attempt will be a form of “suffering,” it pales in comparison to what the homeless face day in and day out. This is ultimately why he’s riding and raising funds for Team Samaritan.
“Any time we see a homeless person or people who have to live on the streets,” Clement said, “That is true suffering — true endurance — with no end in sight.”
To learn more about Corbin’s fundraising efforts or to donate, click here.