Pursuit and The Center recognized by The City of Houston!

August 9, 2016


HOUSTON — Mayor Sylvester Turner and the Houston City Council honored “The Center” Tuesday with a proclamation for its continued work in the community for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

More than 40 representatives from the organization, including clients served by its services and programs, were on hand to receive the honor.

The Center is a nonprofit organization that serves over 450 adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities through day programs, work programs, and residential services. This year, the organization’s first capital campaign, “Pursuit,” was a major success reaching its $11 million dollar goal before the campaign ended.

Launched by longtime board member, David Baldwin of SCF Partners, Pursuit brought together a dedicated group of people who decided to ride bicycles 3,500 miles across the nation to visit organizations similar to The Center to learn and share information and to raise awareness about persons with IDD.


Cyclist Raising Awareness Ride Through Pittsburgh

July 27, 2016


PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — There was a special bike ride through the City of Pittsburgh Wednesday. The goal was raising money to help those in need.

Last year, David Baldwin decided he wanted to do more for an organization in Houston, Texas, that helps people with developmental disabilities.

After taking a bike ride, he came up with the program call, the “Pursuit For Those With Disabilities.”

The goal is to not only raise money for the facility in Houston, but also to raise awareness.

“There’s 11 million people with developmental disabilities, and a little bit of help, whether it be hiring them or supporting them, goes a long, long way,” said Baldwin.

The cyclists made a stop in Pittsburgh and asked local organizations, Achieva and the Allegheny Valley School to join them.

“We’re excited to bring awareness to all of the services, all of the support that individuals with disabilities need on a daily basis. It’s just countless,” said Danielle Parson, the director of communications for Achieva. “Right now, we’re battling a waiting list. There are about 14,000 people on a waiting list waiting for services. So, with organizations like the one in Houston, we’re able to bring awareness across the country.”

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The organizations will also share information on what programs are working and what support is needed.

“We support these individuals for their work, employment in their community, spiritually, socially, we’re here to make sure they have the best quality experience throughout their life,” said Carol Erzen, of Allegheny Valley School.

The “pursuit” started June 6 in Oregon and the cyclists will finish their ride in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, on Aug. 3.

ACHIEVA selected to host team of cyclists on 3,500-mile ride

NHS Allegheny Valley School (NHS/AVS) and ACHIEVA have been selected to host a team of cyclists from around the United States that has embarked upon a 3,500-mile cross-country ride to raise money and awareness for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Several events are planned to engage the team with the community while in Pittsburgh on Tuesday and Wednesday, July 26-27.

Known as PURSUIT FOR THOSE WITH disABILITIES, the ride’s goal is to raise $13.5 million for The Center organization, a nonprofit that has been promoting the pursuit of choice, growth and personal independence for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Houston for more than six decades. A key component of the ride is to convene nonprofit agencies in cities along the route to share best practices, raise awareness and jumpstart a national effort to attract more attention and resources to adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

“The life expectancy of adults with developmental disabilities has doubled over the last few decades,” says ride organizer David Baldwin, a Houston energy executive who, along with his wife Maire, has long championed The Center and its clients.

NHS/AVS and ACHIEVA leadership will meet with representatives of The Center to share their best practices on July 26 at the NHS/AVS Campus,1992 Ewings Mill Road, Coraopolis. Information gathered from the stops across the country will be compiled by The Center and shared with providers to help enhance services and quality of care.

“A carnival-themed welcome to Pittsburgh is planned for Pursuit on our campus,” says NHS/AVS Chief Development Officer Dorothy Gordon. Included will be a “mini-ride” where clients, staff members and other guests of NHS/AVS and ACHIEVA can ride a short course on an adaptive bicycle, in their wheelchairs, on foot, or however they choose.

An official send-off for the Pursuit Team, including several riders from Pittsburgh, will set off from the Sheraton Station Square on July 27 at 10 a.m.to complete the Pittsburgh to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware leg of the trip. Cyclists and the general public are encouraged to attend to learn more about IDD care and provide a true Pittsburgh-style rally. “Bring those Terrible Towels to cheer the riders on,” Gordon says.

NHS/AVS and ACHIEVA were selected based on their work in caring for the unique needs of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

NHS/AVS has developed innovations in care that include:

• The Memory Care Program that responds to the changing needs of those with IDD who are experiencing Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. It includes a Memory Care Home on the Pittsburgh campus.

• The Sensory Program that identifies an individual’s sensory sensitivities and offers techniques to respond to these challenges through several sensory environments including gardens, an aquatic sensory space, and

• The Communications Technology Program that allows clients to safely use the internet to stay in touch with family and friends, acquire computer skills, and explore their interests.

• Technology (“Smart”) Homes that utilize technologies to help residents to learn new skills and live more independently. A Smart Home opened recently in Beaver County.

ACHIEVA’s programming includes:

• A Home of My Own, a unique public/private partnership model, developed to assist people with disabilities to move out of their families’ homes into homes of their own.

• ACHIEVA Family Trust, providing services to help families and individuals with disabilities plan for the significant challenges affecting their futures and financial stability. ACHIEVA serves as trustee of several kinds of trusts benefiting individuals with disabilities.

• ACHIEVA Vocational Supports, providing job training and supports to individuals with disabilities. Staff assists individuals with disabilities with getting real work in the real world for real pay.

The ride began June 6 in Oregon, and will conclude Aug. 3 in Delaware. Along the way, riders pass through Portland, Boise, Badlands National Park, the Twin Cities, Madison, Chicago, Cleveland and Pittsburgh, before ending in Rehoboth Beach.

For additional information visit: http://www.pursuitride.org.

Making news in Erie!

July 26, 2016


Bicyclists all the way from Houston, Texas made a stop at the Barber National Institute during their cross-country trip promoting disability services.

Members of The Center in Houston are riding across the country this summer to raise $11 million and awareness for adults with disabilities.

Those cyclists made a stop at the Barber National Institute this Monday afternoon to discuss residential, job readiness and placement programs for adults with special needs.

Those from The Center said they're impressed with the work being done here in Erie.

The Center in Houston is a nonprofit organization that has been providing services to adults with disabilities for more than six decades.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

July 26, 2016

A cross-country bicycle ride passes through Pittsburgh today and Wednesday to raise awareness and money for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

The “Pursuit for Those With disABILITIES” aims to raise $13.5 million for The Center, a Houston nonprofit that promotes choice, growth and personal independence for these adults. The promotion is bringing together nonprofit agencies along the way to work on ways to help a population its founders say is overlooked.

Today, the ride is scheduled to stop at the Allegheny Valley School at 1992 Ewings Mill Road in Coraopolis, where staff of that campus for adults with these disabilities and of education and human services provider ACHIEVA, as well as their clients and guests, will participate in a mini-ride using adaptive bikes, wheelchairs, their feet and other modes amid a carnival theme.

Wednesday morning, the public is invited to the Sheraton Station Square for a 10 a.m. rally to see off the ride as it heads out on its next leg to Cumberland, Md.

AVS chief development officer Dorothy Hunter Gordon says she’s very excited to be joining the school’s assistant western regional executive director Roni Erath in pedaling that leg. “The ride will provide a great way of continuing the conversations” about building collaborations and quality of care for people with these disabilities.

The 3,500-mile ride ends in Rehoboth Beach, Del., on Aug. 3. It started in Astoria, Ore., on June 6. Read more about it at pursuitride.org.

Bob Batz Jr.: [email protected], 412-263-1930 and on Twitter @bobbatzjr.



Naperville Resident in Pursuit of More Job Opportunities for Adults with Disabilities

July 22, 2016


Last weekend, a team of dedicated cyclists arrived in Chicago, an important stop on their 3,500-mile cross-country bike ride to raise awareness for adults with disabilities and to increase opportunities for those seeking employment. Bikers from the Pursuit ride for those with disABILITIES (http://www.pursuitride.org) have already raised over $12 million to support one such organization in Houston -- The Center -- but their influence extends beyond Texas's borders. They are meeting with 31 organizations across the country to learn about other innovative programs that help people with disabilities address challenges in their lives.


On Sunday the Pursuit Riders visited Aspire, a non-profit that serves nearly 600 children and more than 300 adults with disabilities every year in Chicagoland. One of the people on the visit was Naperville's own Mark Kirstein, an advocate on the issue and the father of Liam, an 18-year-old with autism. Kirstein is the Greater Chicago Marketing & Sales Director at PricewaterhouseCoopers, one of the title sponsors of Pursuit. When he learned the riders were visiting Chicago he immediately asked how he could help.

"My wish, like that of all parents, is that Liam and others who are differently-abled will be employed in a meaningful way and will be able to contribute to society and live as independently as possible," he said.

As part of his commitment to decrease the 80% unemployment rate for people with disabilities in the US, Kirstein helped create a program at Aspire called CareerLink, which consists of real world, pre-training environments (such as a mock distribution center and mock retail store) where individuals with intellectual, cognitive and physical disabilities can engage and enhance their skills in a safe environment and then hone their skills while working at the companies that partner with Aspire. In its first two years, 90% of the students completing the program are working approximately 20 hours a week--including Liam, who has a job with a local park district on the maintenance staff. Liam will be heading off to the University of Iowa in the Fall to attend a 2-year program called UI-REACH--Realizing Education and Career Hopes.

More information about Aspire's Career Link can be found at https://www.aspirechicago.com/aspire-careerlink/.

South Bend News


For a month now, bike riders have been on one amazing trek across the country, and all to help some very special people.

It's a cross-country bike ride like no other, all to support a Houston non-profit called "The Center" which helps people with disabilities.

The ride began last month in Oregon and has been continuing across the country for 3,500 miles!

Monday, they made it to South Bend.

Their mission is to improve the lives of the eleven million Americans with disabilities.

David Baldwin, Pursuit Rider-in-Chief said, "All of our clients respond so passionately and favorably to the opportunity to learn how to live independently or to work in the community. So if you can give somebody a job or an opportunity to live independently, that has a disability, get involved and help out. You can make an amazing difference in somebodies life."

The original goal was to raise $11 million.

But now that they've surpassed that, they're hoping to raise another $2 million.


Mankato, MN News Story



A bike ride across the entire nation is taking place to raise money for those with disabilities.

The 3,500 mile bike ride made its way to Mankato today, and hopes to raise 13 and a half million dollars for people with disabilities.

The ride has already raised more than 12 million dollars, and wraps up in August.

"Just to think that a year ago, we had this idea with a dream that we could raise a lot of money to help change the trajectory of our organization that affects thousands of lives and to see how far we've come, it's unbelievable," said David Baldwin, Rider-In-Chief.

The team plans on traveling a hundred miles tomorrow up to St. Paul.

--KEYC News 12


Headlines in Minnesota!

July 7, 2016



WORTHINGTON -- A team of cyclists facing the American road and the winds of the prairie on a cross-country campaign to raise money and awareness for adults with disabilities stopped Wednesday night in Worthington.

The campaign, called “PURSUIT FOR THOSE WITH disABILITIES,” consists of a 3,500-mile bike ride that began June 6 in Oregon and will finish Aug. 3 in Maryland.

“Your state has blessed us with more headwinds,” joked David Baldwin, the leader of Pursuit. “South Dakota gave us all it had, and Minnesota is continuing the trend.”

Baldwin is a long-time board member and volunteer at The Center, the organization that the ride will benefit. He also served as president for five years. Located in Houston, Texas, The Center offers services to adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

“I have never done anything like this before,” Baldwin said. “My wife and I have volunteered at (The Center). ... We are not real accomplished bike riders, but we’ve always wanted to do something that could help the local organization raise funds.”

The Center serves about 500 clients at two separate campuses in Houston, and Baldwin said it needs funds to continue expanding.

“We have a special arrangement with the city of Houston where we can buy our land from the city, and we have a very preferential price that we can buy it at, if we have the funds to do it,” he explained. “We’re going to buy the land that our campus sits on, and then we’re going to build a new campus.”

Baldwin and four others arrived in Worthington around 3 p.m. after their 69-mile ride from Sioux Falls, S.D. That segment was one of their shorter daily lengths; they have now traveled roughly 1,800 miles in just more than 30 days.

The group started with an $11 million goal, but now they have their eyes set on a new number.

“We just last night went over the $12 million mark, so our goal is $13.5 million,” Baldwin said. “We’re 30 days into our 60 day journey, and we’ve raised right at $12 million, so it makes the headwinds seem trivial, I guess.”

“It’ll probably take more than the $13 million that we’re raising, but this will allow us to buy the land, pay off all of our debt, and be in a really good position where, down the road, we can raise the rest of the funds to rebuild the campus.” he added.

In addition to raising money, Baldwin hopes to gain information from other facilities to take back to The Center.

“As we cross the country, we’re meeting with 31 other organizations like The Center,” he said. “We’re helping those organizations raise funds and sharing learning ideas.

“I wanted to learn from some of the best organizations across the country, how they help people with disabilities, so we can bring it back from Houston.”

There are more than 350 people working on the Pursuit campaign, and many are joining for various segments of the journey.

“I think it’s been incredible for us to have so many friends involved,” Baldwin said. “To have literally hundreds of our friends sign up to volunteer to help this has been pretty fun and overwhelmingly cool.”

Though the campaign is for The Center, Baldwin has found personal rewards in the ride.

“I’ve always wanted to ride my bike across the country,” he said. “It’s sort of an epic challenge, and it’s not easy, as I’m finding out.”

“I’m sort of at a mid-to-late point in my life and career, and I just said, ‘Hey, I’m taking two months off, I’m going to ride my bike across the country, I’m going to have fun, I’m going to do it with friends, I’m going to learn about this, and we’re going to try to make a difference,’” he said. “There’s a real personal challenge and personal benefit to it that I’m excited about.”

Baldwin also said he has enjoyed meeting new people from each state they cross.

“We really haven’t met anybody but nice people the whole way,” he said. “We engage every farmer and every person standing on the side of the road, so that’s been a real highlight.”

Though he has seen many differences in the people he has encountered, they all share a common ability to serve.

“Everybody can make a difference,” Baldwin said. “It just takes slowing down and getting off the routine.”

“You’ll find that it makes a big difference in yourself, also,” he continued. “Just the whole challenge of doing it and working and accomplishing something hard with friends is very rewarding.”

Making News Twice in Rapid City!

June 29, 2016


He calls it Team Pursuit and they're riding bicycles across the country to raise money and awareness for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

The group was in Rapid City Wednesday with what they're calling a "fun run" between Mount Rushmore and Rapid City.
That group rolled into town Wednesday afternoon.
David Baldwin of Houston organized the ride, and he's riding the entire 3,500 miles from Astoria, Oregon to the East Coast, with others doing smaller segments of the trip.
The ultimate goal is to raise $13 million dollars for The Center in Houston.

David Baldwin says, "We've got over 350 friends join our mission. We'll have over 100 people from Houston riding along with us. And then in the cities we go through, we'll have hundreds of additional riders join us. So it's a really fun project and the dream trip of a lifetime for me and Maire.

The Center is similar to Black Hills Works here in the Black Hills.
The full group takes off Thursday morning for a ride to Wall and back to see the Badlands.