Take a couple of bicycles, two dedicated and generous riders, a looooong race across Iowa and you have a mix of summer fun and a worthy goal.

Ray Ratke, vice president for programs of Lutheran Family Services, his son Ethan, and two friends arode 406 miles across the Iowa heartland from July 21 to July 27 and raised more than $4,000 for foster children who are going to college.

“Over Father’s Day weekend I was thinking about how lucky and grateful I am to have a wonderful family and the thought came to me, why not do this ride in a way that gives something back?,” said Ratke.

The money won’t go toward tuition or books, but for living expenses, which are rarely covered by grants and can make or break college plans.

For many children in foster care, college is the impossible dream. According to one study, by age 24 only 6 percent of youth in foster care have finished a two- or four-year degree. That means one child in foster care gets a degree for every five who go to college who are not in foster care.

For youth who age out without any connection to a permanent family, the challenges of independent living are that much harder to overcome. With support from Lutheran Family Services, these teens can have a positive college experience and a brighter future. And, says Ratke, young people who are moving out of care will have a positive connection to people who care about them.

If you would like to donate, you may do so here through September 1.