By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
OKC Compassion, Inc. is hosting the 5th annual ‘Philip Gokool Ride for Compassion’ on Saturday, Oct. 12 at Lake Hefner’s Stars & Stripes Park in Oklahoma City. The event is in memory of OKC Compassion volunteer and friend Philip Gokool and is open to riders of all abilities.
Check-in and late registration will be from 7:30 – 9 a.m. The ride will begin at 8 a.m. Ride for Compassion fee is $25 per rider. Children 12 and under are free. A free family picnic will be provided from 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Donations are appreciated.
The ride, beginning and ending near the covered pavilion, is approximately 50 miles, or five laps around Lake Hefner.
“We offer this event as a memorial to Philip’s compassion and service to those in need,” said Pastor Richard Bond, OKC Compassion Executive Director.
From Trinidad and Tobago, Philip Gokool came to Oklahoma City to attend Southern Nazarene University. He served as a volunteer custodian at Penn Avenue Church and also helped OKC Compassion by distributing food, serving meals, and providing transportation for those in need.
On July 8, 2008, after assisting two friends with errands, Philip told friends he had one more person to help that evening. He was found dead the next morning. His murder remains unsolved.
The ride is not a race. It will not be timed and is not certified by any racing organization. Completion is not required. The event will be held rain or shine and entry fees are non-refundable. Refreshments will be provided during the ride after each lap.
Catherine Sharp, OKC Compassion volunteer said, “This event helps keep up awareness of Philip Gokool’s death and the fact that the crime has never been solved.”
A 2013 “Ride for Compassion” long sleeved t-shirt will be given to the first 100 participants to register. Online registration is now available at okccompassion.net/memorial-ride.
Eric Lang, owner of Christian Brothers Automotive said, “The ride for Phillip Gokool is a way to remember a young man who was committed to helping those in need and who had a passion for “Kingdom” work.
“The ride also helps raise funding to support OKC Compassion, led by Richard Bond,” Lang added. This important inner city effort shares the same call for compassionate ministry.”
OKC Compassion, Inc. provides support to Oklahoma City’s inner city residents at the shared facilities made available by Penn Avenue Church. Serving over 100 free hot meals a day year round, the Community Meal program works in partnership with the Regional Food Bank, local grocers and several metro restaurants.
Debbi McCullock, Pastor of International Ministries and supporter of the OKC First Dicycleship team said, “The event is in memory of Philip, a devoted volunteer whose life was cut short by a violent crime. The ride is a meaningful way to remember his love for others and his faith that people can, and do, change.
“The spirit of the ride is about moving forward in the face of tragedy and adversity, something that many in our community face each day.”
The Recovery House Program started in 1999 and has grown to oversee six separate housing facilities with capacity for 30 residents.
“I’ve struggled with addictive problems my whole life,” said Stacy Lord, Ride for Compassion event co-organizer. “If you have a need, then you qualify. I don’t know what I would have done without OKC Compassion.”
Each Wednesday the Celebrate Recovery Program provides an evening dinner at 5:45 p.m. followed by a worship service and small group discussions. Daily support groups, shower facilities and clothing rooms offer items free of charge for those in need.
All proceeds from the Philip Gokool Ride for Compassion will benefit the poor and disadvantaged in Oklahoma City through daily meal programs, addiction recovery services, financial assistance, and short-term housing.
“OKC Compassion has been the difference between life or death for me,” said Jonathan Harrison, OKC Compassion leadership committee member and resident.
For more information, visit okccompassion.net.
Ride for Compassion honors former volunteer lost in unsolved murder
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