On May 24, thirty-one young dedicated young men and women gathered in Charleston, South Carolina to begin a 4200 mile bicycle ride across America to raise money for affordable housing. On August 1, they rode from Alturas to Cassel where they stopped for a night’s rest and recreation at the Cassel Volunteer Fire Hall. An reception was organized by Michael and Melanie Kerns.
On their way they also had a rest stop at Pitville Road hosted by Edna Eades, Glendra Tuller and Tracy Wintersteen. Eades, Tuller, and Wintersteen came for the dinner and program in Cassel.
Melanie and Michael Kerns with the 31 bikers
The bikers were riding for Bike and Build, an organization that raises money for affordable housing. Most of the riders are college graduates, age 26-29. The group visiting Cassel is one of eight national rides. They started their journey from Charleston, South Carolina on May 24 and will end their ride on August 9 in Santa Cruz. Along the way, they spent 17 “Build Days” where they stopped to work on affordable housing projects. Work done included framing, painting, roofing, drywalling, and landscaping.
Before the trip each rider raises at least $4,500 and gets to choose what housing program the money they raise will benefit. This group of 31 young adults raised about $500,000 dollars. The top fundraiser in the group raised over $12,000. Altogether since the program began in 2003, Bike and Build has raised $5.2 million.
After riding from Alturas, the bikers were hot and tired, happy to take a shower before dinner. The Casssel Firehall was filled with bicycles packs, and sleeping bags.
Bikes and bags in the community center
The Kerns and other volunteers had prepared a delicious spaghetti and meat ball dinner with root beer floats for desert. During the dinner, riders chatted freely with visitors and volunteers detailing the joys of their trip and their reasons for participating.
Nora Jane Montgomery
Nora Jane Montgomery from Louisville, Kentucky, one of the four leaders of the group said, “This is my first Bike and Build Trip and it has been both difficult and rewarding to be able to participate in this effort to raise awareness for affordable housing.”
With only eight days left before they finished their trip, a sense of accomplishment and confidence permeated the atmosphere.
Meg Howell from North Carolina
Meg Howell, a charming young lady from Greenville, said that it was wonderful to “push myself and see the country at 15 miles an hour.”
After dinner, all thirty one cyclists introduced themselves, told where they were from, what college they attended, and what field they had majored in. The majors ranged from English and theology to environmental studies, public policy, and mechanical engineering. It was an amazing array of knowledge.
One pair of graduates from Annapolis, Maryland have been friends since childhood and were thrilled to be able to bike across country together.
Lifelong friends from Maryland biking together cross country
One of the leaders of the group, John Daniel Acevedo had also served in the Marines for four years after graduating. He did two tours in the Southeast Pacific. He loves to travel, and hopes to explore Mexico City and tour the entire Mediterranean coast.
The other two leaders of the group were Hope Hart from Ellenboro, West Virginia, and Dylan Maguire. Participants in the ride came from 21 different states.
Six presenters explain various aspects of the trip
Six representatives of the group gave a very enjoyable and informative presentation. Each speaker explained a different aspect of the program.Topics included preparation for the trip, the build days, the grant program, a typical day, and safety.
After the presentations, the guests departed and bikers watched a Harry Potter movie before settling down for a good nights sleep. The next day they were planning to ride to Mt. Lassen and then hike to the top. On August 9, they will complete their journey to Santa Cruz.