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Giving Back Through Biking

Learn how Colin Parker is raising funds for Trips for Kids National from the seat of a bicycle

Millions of jobs were lost in 2020. At the same time, the COVID-19 pandemic inspired people around the world to reassess what’s most important to them and how they spend their time, resulting in one of the biggest years for bicycling in decades. This experience rings especially true for Colin Parker. In February, he lost his job when the data science company he worked for was shut down. Around the same time he and his girlfriend of seven years broke up. And a month later, the world went on lockdown. Colin found himself sleeping on an air mattress in his friend’s apartment. He had little privacy, and knew that he needed an outlet to process everything that had happened. He remembered the freedom he felt as a child riding his bike and exploring with friends in the greater Portland region of Maine. So he dug up the bicycle he had used for transportation in college and started cycling -- and quickly found the release he was looking for. “When things go bad, I need to move,” Colin said. “Biking allowed me to clear my mind and reconnect with myself.”

Colin began cycling more frequently and eventually completed a 100-mile century ride in Marin County, California with some friends, which inspired him to ride even more. “I thought I’d be tired of biking after that ride, but as soon as we got home, I hit the road again,” Colin said. As Colin rode, he reflected on challenges -- the challenges the world was facing, the challenges he was facing personally -- and most importantly, how the bicycle was challenging him to grow in ways he never thought possible. He decided to set a distance goal for himself -- then took his plans one step further. “I figured if I was doing all this biking, I might as well do something good with it,” Colin said.

He searched for nonprofit cycling organizations, discovered Trips for Kids National and immediately connected with the organization’s mission. “I want all children to have the opportunity that I had as a child, and now again as an adult,” Colin said. “To explore, to experience a change of scenery and to process whatever it is they’re going through in life from the seat of a bicycle.” While this is Colin’s first experience with Trips for Kids, he spent time in high school and college volunteering with at-risk students, and credits his teachers, as well as his mother, for inspiring him to give back.

For this project, Colin plans to ride as many miles as possible within a five month period, with 100% of the proceeds benefiting Trips for Kids National. He bikes daily along the scenic Pacific Coast Highway up into the Santa Monica Mountains, leveraging PledgeIt to track donations and Strava to track his miles. He has documented his journey on Instagram along the way.

Colin is currently on track to beat his goal of cycling 1,600 miles before September and plans to get involved with a ride with Trips for Kids High Desert Riders in Palmdale, California. He is planning cycling trips to Texas and Colorado later this year, and if the pandemic allows, may participate in Tour de France stages this fall. Those following Colin’s journey can give a flat donation or pledge per mile, with funds going toward the Learn and Earn a Bike Online Anywhere program, which educates kids aged 10-17 on bicycle mechanics, safety and environmental impact. Graduates of the program can earn a free refurbished bike of their own. As he reflects on the previous year, Colin says that the challenges he faced were all worth it. In addition to fundraising for Trips for Kids National, he was able to transition his data science experience to a music software company. As a guitarist, this fulfilled another one of his life’s passions. “If I hadn’t lost my job, I would have never ended up where I am today,” Colin says. “Re-discovering my love for biking has been incredibly rewarding -- and sharing the experience with others makes it even better.” Please visit THIS LINK to support Colin’s ride.

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