Student to bike across America to support homeless

Hannah Luu/WSN

When most of her peers will be leaving New York City or pursuing internships at the end of the semester, Stern freshman Abigail Donoghue will be departing on a three-month cross-country bike ride. The ride will benefit Bike & Build, a non-profit organization that raises awareness for the affordable housing crisis in the United States.

Donoghue plans to depart from Charleston, S.C., and reach Santa Cruz, Calif., on Aug. 11. She will be among 33 other cyclists between the ages of 18 and 28. Donoghue said that the cyclists will bike between 35 and 117 miles each day and will sleep in community centers, churches and other free spaces. The group will build houses with Habitat for Humanity and other local organizations for 17 days throughout the trip, including an eight-day stay in Colorado Springs, Colo., where they will build a house.

Donoghue said she was initially unsure of how to spend her summer. She originally considered interning, but ultimately decided to volunteer while she still has the summers free.

“I really wanted to do something that helped people, as well as teach me about myself,” Donoghue said. “I also love traveling and have always wanted to do a cross-country trip. Bike & Build sounded like the perfect opportunity.”

When Stern sophomore Lydia Guo, a participant in last summer’s Bike & Build, told Donoghue about the organization, Donoghue knew it was something she had to be a part of.

“She hadn’t even finished describing it and I was already mentally committed,” she said.

Riders — most of whom are college students — are required to raise $4,500 each and ride at least 500 training miles before starting. Donoghue has raised over $5,000 to date, but she said she wants to continue to raise as much money as possible until the start of her ride.

As part of Donoghue’s fundraising campaign, she sent letters to family and friends in New York and back home in Barrington, Ill.

“I have been amazed by the generosity of my friends and family,” Donoghue said. “I am in awe of the contributions and I am determined to make them count when I am on the road this summer.”

Donoghue also plans to host a fundraising event in New York before she leaves.

The funds will go toward the group’s building projects and the leftover money can go toward sponsoring a local housing organization in New York or Illinois.

Bike & Build was founded in 2002 by Marc Bush, a Yale University alumnus and participant in the Yale Habitat Bicycle Challenge. Around 240 people do the ride every year on eight different routes across the country. Since its inception, the organization has raised over $4.5 million for affordable housing charities.

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, April 21 print edition. Julianne McShane is a staff writer. Email her at [email protected]