How do you bike across the country raising money for cancer? For starters, you have to be loud and be proud.
In mid-June, seven local boy scouts, along with six leaders, from Troop 845 kicked off on a transcontinental bike ride. Starting with their tires in the Oregon Pacific, the crew is in route to the North Carolina Atlantic, and they hope to make a lot of noise while they are at it.
Along with earning their Cycling Merit Badge, the crew, aptly called Bike Loud, is raising money for the Be Loud Sophie Foundation. The Be Loud Sophie Foundation is a local organization that helps teens find and maintain their identity in the midst of “overwhelming” illness.
Be Loud Sophie was founded in 2013 after East Chapel Hill student Sophie Steiner passed away from cancer at the age of 15. The seven boy scouts all attend East Chapel Hill as well and wanted to show their support for their classmate and friend, as well as their peers across the area with cancer.
“Thinking of others and seeing all the good things that happen when you give, I think that will be a very good learning lesson for them,” said leader Ed Billings.
Going into the trip, the group had a goal of raising $4 for each mile of the trip, or about $19,600 in total. They started an account on fundraise.com and managed to surpass that goal weeks before the start of the trip.
The generosity for the cause going into the trip has not let up as the 13 riders, all clad in bright yellow “Bike Loud” shirts, are well on their way across the country.
“A lot of people have been giving us free places to stay, which is a big thing because we expected that camping would be a big expense on the trip,” said scout Max Morgan.
The crew has found people all along their route who are willing to give whatever they can for the cause.
“There have been people that have paid for our breakfasts, we even got a free yoga lesson one time,” added fellow scout Andrew de Figueiredo.
Despite the immense generosity, the trip has not been painless. Mechanical issues aside (early on, scout Will Owen had a flat tire about five miles from their destination), the sun and heat have paid their toll on the bikers. They have experienced 100-plus temperatures on multiple days, and on many of those days there was little to no shade on the road.
“There’s been a lot of times when we have gotten to places when there is literally no shade at all so we just get under our bikes for shade because that is the only place we can go,” said Andrew.
Shade or no shade, the crew has managed to keep a high morale and is more than ready to embark on the next leg of the summerlong endeavor. Their last major stop was Yellowstone National Park to celebrate the Fourth of July.
“The cycling is to get you through the experience; bag the miles early and then go live in the moment and meet people, that’s what its all about,” said Billings.
You can follow the bikers or donate to their cause at bikeloud.org where Billings writes a daily blog chronicling all of their adventures. All of the money raised goes directly to the Be Loud Sophie Foundation.