By Kate Tracy
Jason Hardrath is peddling a unique – some may call it crazy – summer mission trip. Not only will this trip involve great physical feats, but it’s also intended for something greater. The mission: bike 3,500 miles from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean, raising funds and awareness to help children living in poverty.
Hardrath and a group of Corban students have committed to a 40-day biking vigil across the country tentatively scheduled for June 4th, and have pledged money to Compassion International, an organization that aids children in poverty-stricken countries.
“It’s a huge issue going on in the world, but it’s been popping up in chapels lately, and I know it’s a worthwhile cause,” Hardrath says.
Bike mission team member Travis Hilley supports Hardrath’s choice to fund-raise for Compassion. “They’ve got the whole package,” he says. “A large percentage of our dollar goes to poverty, and in Jesus’ name. Compassion is the stuff!”
Bike team members plan to raise $2,800 each, with $1,500 going straight to Compassion International. The idea to use biking to raise support stems from both Hardrath’s passion for the sport and a catering to Americans’ interest in athletics.
“There are two things Americans are passionate about,” he said. “They are sporting endeavors and giving money to good causes. We are combining the two.”
The trip’s logistics are nothing short of challenging. For the approximately 40-day trip, Hardrath is attempting to locate churches or campgrounds where the group can stay each night. That involves planning a route and calculating how far the group will ride each day based on steepness of the grade and other factors.
Right now, the route heads through Idaho and Wyoming, passes on to the outskirts of Chicago and the Great Lakes, and ends just outside of New York City. A support van with luggage and aid will accompany the group for the whole journey.
Hardrath is most excited to bike near the Great Lakes and see the Statue of Liberty. However, many things about the trip make him nervous, including passing through big cities and the possibility of cyclists getting lost from the group.
For his part, Hilley is looking forward to the challenge of biking for so many days, and raising money for needy kids. “I’m excited about talking in different churches and doing what we actually want to do,” he said.
Another part of the plan: speaking and fund-raising opportunities in churches along the way.
Biking across America may not seem fun to most students, but Hardrath promises that this will be an adventure never to forget. So far, six students have signed up to go on the trip, and he’s hoping that more will join. This is Hardrath’s first time leading a mission, but he’s excited for the opportunity. An avid biker, he spent a considerable amount of time this summer going on 3-day bike road trips.
“It will be the most amazing thing, with some exceptions, you will ever do,” he says with a smile. “It’s worth the physical work.”