Albany teen bikes to become a better person

Albany teen bikes to become a better person. / Photo: Danielle Ledbetter

Eighteen year-old Matthew Atherton is getting ready to take a trip.

He's lacing up his shoes and putting on his helmet, getting ready to head down the right path, but it wasn't always that way.

Atherton says, "around like 14 or 15, I started doing drugs all of that, hanging out with the wrong crowds."

After getting arrested multiple times, he was given an ultimatum.

"They told me and they said you either go to the Paul Anderson Youth Home or you can stay in jail until your court date."

Atherton decided to go to the youth home.

At first he says, "I hated it honestly. I did not like it, I didn't want to be here. I was like get me out of here ."

But around the fifth month, something changed, "I got picked for the bike ride my fifth or sixth month here because they said they saw an improvement in me."

Atherton and four others from the home will take the ride next week.

The bike ride is from Vidalia, Georgia where the youth home is. Matt and four others will ride through Augusta, Statesboro and Savannah.

They'll end the trip where they started back in Vidalia.

The idea started back in 1961, Stephen Nichols with the home, says, "Our founder, Paul Anderson, one of the ways he raised the initial start up funds to open the home here in Vidalia, Georgia was to cycle from Vidalia, Georgia up to boys a home in Nebraska."

The ride is to raise money for the youth home. The funds go toward counseling, substance treatment and more.

Atherton says when people donate they're really helping change someone's life.

"Before this. I wasn't going to be anything. I was going to be dead or in jail but now since I've been here, I've learned about myself and I get my diploma next week" said Atherton.

Next week will be big for Matthew, he says it symbolizes how far he has come.

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