By Haley Cafarella | Correspondent
After a childhood of competitive swimming and months of training in cold weather in preparation for her first Olympic-distance event, Stephanie Peddicord, president of the Center for FaithJustice, completed the “Escape the Cape” charity triathlon in just 3 1/2 hours.
The event, well-known for beginning with a 12-foot drop off the Cape May-Lewes Ferry into the Delaware Bay, took place June 4 in Lower Township, Cape May County. The Olympic version of the event is a one-mile swim, more than 20-mile bike ride and a 5-mile run.
The event took place on Pentecost Sunday, which marked the anniversary of a difficult moment in Peddicord’s life – her mother passing away from Parkinson’s disease.
“My mom, as we were growing up, always wanted us to be physically active. She was the one that put me into competitive swimming at a very young age. I started competitive swimming when I was 5 years old, so it was always something that was part of our family’s life,” Peddicord said.
Peddicord said her mother’s condition inspired her to not take physical abilities for granted and to push herself to do new things. The triathlon forced her to push her body – and relationship with God –to the limit.
“It was very much my spiritual space to be present in prayer and be alone with my thoughts,” she said, adding that she documented some of her spiritual and physical journey on her blog, www.swimbikeworx.causevox.com/.
Through the triathlon, Peddicord raised more than $7,500 for the Center for FaithJustice, a nonprofit organization based in Lawrenceville rooted in Catholic tradition that aims to foster economic, political and social justice through service-immersion programs for young people.
Two programs in particular will benefit from the funds raised, she said.
“For the most part, our middle school and high school programs are funded, at least in part, from program fees,” she said. “But, we have two programs in particular that we need to raise all the money for independently.”
One is LeaderworX, the center’s college-aged program that Peddicord said “attracts young people from all over the country and all over the world.” Among those currently in the program are people from Budapest, Hungary, Mexico and Texas. Most are juniors or seniors in college, and they commit to staying in the center’s retreat house for the summer.
“It is one-part spiritual formation and professional training and development,” Peddicord said of LeaderworX. “They also, in turn, go out and work with our teams on administering to the high school and middle school students.”
These college students receive stipends to stay with the center, and their living and transportation costs are also covered.
The other program that will benefit from Peddicord’s triathlon is CommUNITYworX, a community-based, privately funded program in Trenton that brings together high school students of different racial and socioeconomic backgrounds to build relationships in a safe setting. It is open to all eligible applicants.
For more information about FaithJustice, visit www.faithjustice.org.