For Belmont students Brennon Mobley, James Richfield and JD Hartwig, the idea of a 4,000 mile, cross-country bike ride was enticing, but left them wanting more.
“It’s my last summer. It’s my last opportunity to do something like this. I wanted to challenge myself physically. I wanted to challenge myself in terms of something I hadn’t done before. I wanted to challenge myself in terms of giving and I wanna take advantage of the last opportunity I have in terms of a true summer,” Mobley said.
A higher level of adventure came in the form of creating Riding With a Reason, an organization in which the three young entrepreneurs are combining their desire to travel the United States to raise money and awareness for 147 Million Orphans, an organization designed to raise awareness for orphans as well as providing food, water and medication to children in need globally.
“We wanted someone who would align with all our desires and someone who we could pedal 4,000 miles for. We found a true partner in one-four-seven, someone that’s really taken our idea of a bike trip and taken it to another level,” Mobley said.
The six-to-seven week ride, which is tentatively slated to begin May 15, will provide “one-four-seven” with much-needed awareness and fundraising in the summer which is the organization’s greatest time of need during the span of a year.
The team plans to raise money through PayPal on their website as well as encouraging other bike challenges across the nation where riders can obtain sponsors.
To build a six-room school house like the team plans, they will need to raise $30,000. Mobley hopes that if the team is successful this year, the model will have a ripple effect to where there are more schools built in years to come.
Each member of Riding With a Reason plays a different, but equally important role.
“It’s exciting to see something that started as an idea turn into actual reality. We have actual shirts, we have bikes,” Richfield said. “It’s all very rewarding, and we’re all studying entrepreneurship, and I think at the heart of being an entrepreneur is being able to create something out of nothing.”
Mobley is the engineer, the brainchild, and perhaps the most persuasive of the group.
“Brennon notoriously has a lot of crazy fun ideas, sometimes he has to choose between them. It’s easy to say biking across America sounds fun,” Hartwig said.
But, Mobley was serious.
With his last summer, a sense of urgency paired with an already established precedent of starting social ventures fell perfectly with his desire to ride across the country.
“When he said, ‘Let’s bike across America,’ I thought, ‘Wow, what an interesting perspective to think of all the stories you’ll gain and sights you’ll see’,” Richfield said. “You only have today so make something of it,” Richfield said.
Richfield’s laid-back attitude lends itself well to maintaining a group dynamic, but is not to be mistaken for laziness.
“We may not look it, but we have a lot of heart, and that translates to pedaling. We’re pumped and I feel like we all get each other and it’s going to be a very rewarding experience,” Richfield said.
Hartwig was nominated as the group’s physical trainer, helping the trio become ready to ride as many as seven hours a day between homes.
“I guess I assumed this role based on other interests I have already. We’ve been talking to Marshall Martin who has a long history in competing in bike races. While I would know a lot about general fitness or lifting weights I wouldn’t know as much specifically about biking as he did,” Hartwig said.
Hartwig’s focus is intentional, and provides parity to his adventurous side.
“Being a graduating senior, I want to set the precedent for myself to do things that are fun and still make time for adventure,” Hartwig said. “ I’m going to have the rest of my life to work a job and be an employee, to me it’s totally worth the risk of not diving right into a job or a career right after I graduate.”
As much as the Riding With a Reason founders will rely upon each other, they are relying upon the help of others to host them on their journey to Oregon.
The support they’ve already received from social media and actual sponsors has been encouraging to the trio.
“147 Million Orphans has a really captive audience. They have a lot of followers on their blog, and the ones who follow it are truly engaged. A simple email with no specifics they blasted out with just the basic idea of it all, to host an event in these states. 25 people emailed back saying ‘Hey we’re willing,’ “ Mobley said.
The team is currently in the process of getting information kits to host families and individuals all over the U.S. beginning their own bike challenges to raise money for 147 Million Orphans in anticipation of their May start date.
In a characteristic statement of Riding With a Reason, Mobley says the three have no reason to cap their fundraising potential.
“As long as we make some impact, we’ll be happy, but in the ideal scenario, we get halfway through and we’ve reached the goal for building the school. Now, we have the opportunity to get the kids bikes. Now, we have the opportunity to raise teachers salaries so they don’t have to set out a donation jar each year. There will be plenty of ways to give,” Mobley said.