BOONSBORO, Md. (WDVM) — It has been a real struggle over the past year to find care for kids in our area who need loving homes, but a four-day bike ride on the C&O Canal this weekend just might help in that effort.

With the pandemic, foster care and related mental health services have faced significant challenges. There are children in the Hagerstown community that need a loving home. San Mar is a nonprofit based in Boonsboro that offers that hope.

“There are youth in our community right now that don’t have homes,” Mercede Robinson, San Mar director for family and community services, said. “A lot of our youth have had to transition from their biological home due to safety concerns. So our goal at treatment foster care is to provide safe, supportive homes for these youth.”

To provide those homes San Mar has a four-day bicycle ride fundraiser scheduled this weekend along the C&O canal. The distance is 184.5 miles. The donations collected go to “the programs for treatment foster care, and one is the Jack E. Barr Center for well being, which is community mental health services,” Elisa Hermes, San Mar Family and Community Services director of development, said.

Hermes explains that the money raised from the bike ride also funds the Bester Community of Hope, focused on extensive community outreach. Meanwhile, Robinson and her team at San Mar are concentrating on matching kids in need with families that provide that love.

“Our goal is to find diverse families that meet the needs of our youth who are reflective of the population we serve, so right now we’re looking for some African-American families, LGBTQ-plus families, families that really diversify us as a program,” said Robinson.

None of this would be possible without the generous financial support from the bicycle riders, ready to put their 2-wheelers to the test over four days this weekend along the C&O canal.

“I’m just looking forward to spending four days with a great group of people who all have their hearts in the right place and they want to support the kids and families that we serve,” Hermes said.

While 184 and-a-half miles is a long distance, the riders say nothing can beat the support and camaraderie they get from San Mar.

It’s not to late to get your bike ready: Visit San Mar online to find out how you can participate.