8 weeks, 3,000 miles for the Dawson Place Child Advocacy Center

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MUKILTEO – Deven Boyce had several reasons for pedaling his bike over 3,000 miles from Mukilteo Lighthouse to the Statue of Liberty.

He likes biking.

He wanted to prove to himself that he could do it, even though he was only 14 years old.

And he wanted to do bigger than himself by raising money for the Dawson Place Child Advocacy Center in Everett.

The first stop on her trip across the country in June was to thank the staff at Dawson Place.

Approximately 1,100 children receive services from Dawson Place each year. Deven was assisted by the agency over the three years while his grandparents, Jon and Marilyn Boyce, obtained legal custody of him.

Deven raised around $ 10,000 for Dawson Place on the trip, named “Light to Liberty” which has been followed in several Daily Herald stories. The ride started at Mukilteo Lighthouse in June with a community shipment and ended at the Statue of Liberty. It lasted for eight weeks, 18 states, three punctures and a multitude of road fatalities.

Deven wrote a letter thanking the 70 people who donated money to Dawson Place.

“Dawson Place came into my life when I needed help,” he wrote. “They listened to me and helped me. It changed my life. I decided to cross America on horseback to prove to myself that I could. Another reason I took this trip was that more kids like me could get the help they needed at Dawson Place.

Dawson Place has five agencies under one roof to serve children who are victims of physical and sexual abuse or who witness violent crime. The center also offers prevention education, awareness activities and a 16-week parenting class. Everything is free of charge for customers.

Lori Vanderburg, director of Dawson Place, said Deven’s journey was inspiring.

“We are very grateful to Deven and his grandfather for all the work they did and all the ways they promoted Dawson Place and reached out to educate other children,” said Vanderburg.

Deven had taken long bike rides with his grandfather, also an avid cyclist who had pedaled across the country in his 30s. But this time, Grandpa Jon Boyce was his one-man refueling team, following him in a 2004 Toyota van packed with supplies.

Paul Hoffman (left to right) and Jon Boyce pray that Deven will begin his trek across the country at Mukilteo Lighthouse on June 2. (Kevin Clark / Herald file)

The journey began with Deven dipping the front tire of his bike in Puget Sound in Lighthouse Park as around 40 people cheered and prayed.

Boyce, 73, planned the cross-country adventure on a retiree’s budget. There were many days eating cups of noodles, canned tuna, and green beans.

The duo stopped at many historic sites, petrified the forest and went white-water rafting. They also visited a children’s advocacy center in Montana.

They’ve stayed in a few motels and with friends, but most nights were spent in campgrounds or homes through Warm Showers, a hospitality exchange service for cyclists. Hosts included a buddy from Boyce’s army, a math teacher fluent in five languages, and a couple who collect whistles. In Montana, their husband and wife hosts were retired FBI agents who let Deven pose with a taxidermy cougar fired from a pistol.

“I wanted him to meet America,” Boyce said. “If you want to meet people, do it by bike. In a car, it kind of overtakes you.

For the teenager, there was boredom on long, flat stretches of road, off the cellular network, with static radio or country music for company. Some days he cycled 100 miles.

They visited the Statue of Liberty in early August.

Then it was off to Europe for a month to explore and meet friends,

From there, Deven returned to Mukilteo. Boyce returned to the East Coast and drove the New Jersey van on his own.

Deven moved back in time to start his freshman year at Kamiak High School and attend enough practice to play on the freshman soccer team.

A festive pancake breakfast was organized to welcome Deven. Mukilteo police even stopped.

For more information contact 425-789-3000 or visit dawsonplace.org.

Andrea Brown: [email protected]; 425-339-3443. Twitter @reporterbrown.

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