Festival benefits Nicaragua's poor

For the eighth consecutive year, Amigos for Christ will host a music festival and Bike Ride to benefit poor families in Nicaragua. The event, held Oct. 4, has grown in popularity over the years, requiring a venue the size of Suwanee Town Park to house the festivities.

On Friday, the annual Amigos for Christ Golf Classic will be held at the PineIsle Resort at Lake Lanier.

Amigos for Christ is a charitable organization founded in Buford in the late 1990s. Following a mission trip to Nicaragua after Hurricane Mitch devastated the region and left thousands homeless in 1998, organizers were compelled to act, and the charitable organization was formed.

Amigos for Christ volunteers plan and sponsor medical, housing, feeding, educational and clean water programs for families left homeless and in deplorable conditions after the hurricane and sweeping volcanic mudslides 10 years ago.

"We at Amigos for Christ want to invite the local faith community to come and help us celebrate the day," said John Bland, executive director of Amigos for Christ. "Many people are dealing with economic and family issues here in the United States, the same issues facing the poor of Nicaragua, but on a more sophisticated scale. We can offer each other hope and support, by joining together in music and fellowship." All proceeds from this year's festival will be used to support community health clinics, schools, clean water systems and small business projects in Nicaragua.

"We are seeing amazing strides within the families we serve down there. People are healthier, more focused and generally hopeful about their future," Bland said.

The family-friendly event will feature a giant moonwalk, a dunk tank, games, prizes and different foods. Bands lined up for Saturday's event include Caedmon's Call, Afters, Matt Maher, the 12Stone Band, Shae Laurel, Chasing Grace and others. Comedian and author Matthew Paul Turner will also entertain Saturday.

SideBar: If You Go

What: Music Festival, "Pedal for the Poor" bike ride (adult ride at 10 a.m.; Family Fun Ride at 1 p.m., both at Suwanee Creek Greenway

When: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Oct. 4

Where: Suwanee Town Park

Admission: Free

More info: Visit www.amigosforchrist.org