Saddleback College student bikes across the country

Kendra Rysan along with her teammate cycling from South Carolina to Santa Cruz, California. (Courtesy of Justin Villere)

Sarah Dhanaphatana

Kendra Rysan, 19, had an experience of a lifetime this past summer through the Pennsylvania-based program called, “Bike and Build”. This program is a national non-profit organization that stands on the basis of youth empowerment and raises awareness for affordable housing.

Through the program, young adults aged 18-28 can participate in cross-country cyclist trips. Along the ride, young adults undertake America’s longstanding issue of affordable housing by building homes, spreading the word and raising money for the cause.

According to Justin Villere, Director of Operations and Outreach, “For ten weeks, the South Carolina to Santa Cruz team pedaled 4,256 miles, an average of 71 per day to Santa Cruz, SC and the Pacific Ocean.”

In less than four months, Kendra and her teammates traveled across America sparking the movement to help gain awareness for affordable housing while gaining a significant amount of communal interest towards the issue. He says that just this year the “Bike and Build” program will donate nearly $500,000 to over 300 affordable housing non-profits across the country.”

Rysan described the cross-country cyclist trip from South Carolina to Santa Cruz as breathtaking. “It was life-changing. I found a strength I didn’t know I had,” she said.

She found out about the program at the age of 16 while she was in Pennsylvania participating in the Student Conservation Association. During this time she saw bicyclists from the “Bike and Build” program and became interested in mirroring the passion for a cause that these bicyclists expressed.

“My route specifically had a entire week of building in Colorado Springs and we were working alongside a family who was getting the house,” Rysan said about her greatest accomplishment. “We really got to know everyone involved with Pikes Peak for Upper Humanity. On the last day we had a land dedication for the family, they were so appreciative and they were crying. It was great to see what we were able to accomplish in a week and how much it meant to them.”

When asked why she was so passionate about affordable housing she said, “Everyone deserves at the bare minimum a safe place to live, a roof to have over their head.” She encourages young college students who are interested in the “Bike and Build” program to, “Just do it, to make a difference in someone’s life.”

Interested in joining the “Bike & Build” program in 2014? Applications for trip leaders will be available in mid-Oct., and rider applications will be available on Nov. 1.
Learn how you can make your impact on the nation’s affordable housing crisis:

• For more information, visit: 

The “Bike and Build” South Carolina to Santa Cruz Team at Independence Pass in Colorado. (Courtesy of Justin Villere)