Ayoub Bicycles Across the Country for a Cause
When Alma College student Brandt Ayoub, St. Johns junior, travels across the country this summer, his view of the scenery will come from over the handlebars of his bike.
Ayoub and his sister, Stephanie, are riding from Boston to Santa Barbara with an independent non-profit organization called Bike and Build, which he found while researching organized bike rides with a specific purpose.
“When I stumbled across Bike and Build’s Web site, I decided instantly that this was the organization and cause for which I wanted to ride,” he says. “We couldn’t justify paying for an organized ride where we would be meandering across the country.”
As a participant of Bike and Build, Ayoub and his group of 33 will construct homes for Habitat for Humanity on their 3,702-mile journey. This year, there are more than 250 participants and eight different route options.
Because of his service with Big Brothers Big Sisters, Ayoub, who is studying English and Spanish to become a middle school teacher, frequently interacts with people who face affordable housing issues.
In addition to participating in an affordable housing Alternative Break this past year, Ayoub also has volunteered with the local chapter of Habitat for Humanity.
A high school mission trip in which he helped construct homes for an impoverished community in North Dakota also was a memorable service experience during which he realized how fortunate he was to have a home.
Bike and Build is not only another opportunity for Ayoub to continue to gain a greater appreciation for his life but also for him to make a difference.
“I’m certain that I’m going to be exposed to some extreme poverty this summer, but I hope to bring what I learn back to the Alma community,” he says. “I’m confident every other participant will do the same for their respective communities. I really think this trip will have a huge impact.”
More than simply providing labor, however, Bike and Build riders also provide the funding for the build sites. In order to participate, each rider must raise a minimum of $4,000 in donations.
Ayoub applied for a few small grants to achieve this goal. He also tapped into his network of friends and family by hosting a spaghetti dinner.
“I’m absolutely pumped for the experience, and I couldn’t imagine a better way to see this beautiful country,” he says. “I think our efforts really send a message that we’re not just raising money, and we’re not just building homes, but we’re biking across the country for a cause. I believe this will capture attention and, hopefully, lead others to become more aware of the affordable housing crisis in the United States.”
It also will be a “sibling adventure,” says Ayoub, who looks forward to riding with his older sister. Stephanie is a 2009 graduate of the College of the Ozarks in Missouri.
“I’m always up for a challenge and helping people in need, and this is a unique experience that combines both opportunities,” says Stephanie.
In addition to camping out, Bike and Build participants, who are between the ages of 18 and 25, spend their nights at churches, community centers and schools. They are expected to participate in chores, such as grocery shopping and cleaning up overnight areas.
Over seven seasons, the organization has contributed over $2 million to housing groups to fund projects planned and executed by these participants.
Their trip begins June 18 in Boston and concludes Aug. 24 in Santa Barbara. To track the Ayoub’s’ progress over the course of the summer, please visit Bike and Build’s Web site and check out the roster of 2010 riders.
Posted: Mon, May 24th, 2010 at 1:13PM