A charitable cross country adventure

Nothing says friendship like biking about 4,000 miles across the country together during the hot summer months. Two Truman State alumni are gearing up to do just that. Friends Max McDermott and Alex Hromockyj aren’t just in it for the adventure. They have a larger goal in mind — to raise awareness for affordable housing with the Bike & Build organization.

Starting June 17, McDermott and Hromockyj, along with other 300 riders split between eight different routes with 30 riders on each route, will begin their journey in Portland, Maine, and end in Santa Barbara, California, Sept. 1. Along the way, bikers will stop at various Bike & Build sites to help build affordable housing homes.

Bike & Build’s mission is to provide affordable housing for all Americans and empower young adults for a lifetime of service and civic engagement, according to bikeandbuild.org. Housing is considered affordable if payments, taxes and basic utilities do not exceed 30 percent of a household’s gross income, according to the site.

One out of four rental households in the U.S. are owned by low income individuals and families, according to the site.

McDermott said he and Hromockyj learned about Bike & Build from friends and decided they wanted to participate during this year’s trip. But signing up was just the first step. McDermott said they each have to log 500 miles of biking and raise $4,500 as a prerequisite for the trip.

“[The money] will in part be helping us get from one end of the country to the other,” McDermott said. “In some sense, it goes toward keeping us alive. But it doesn’t just go towards a bunch of young kids going on a cool trip. That money goes towards the large pot of money all riders raise that goes directly to the affordable housing cause.”

At the moment, McDermott said he’s raised about 700 dollars. Along with letter campaigns, McDermott said he’s thinking about coming back to Kirksville and hosting a Battle of the Bands event to raise money.

McDermott said an average day during the trip will consist of waking up early — about 4 or 5 a.m. — and biking 40-110 miles a day. He said they travel between each host site — such as churches — and are assigned to various crews, like a breakfast crew or a laundry crew. He said at each host site, everyone will check their bikes and make sure everything is functioning correctly. Then they ride again.

When they stop for a build day with an affordable housing construction site, however, McDermott said they’ll drive to the build site.

“[We’re] trading in our bikes for hammers,” McDermott said.

To learn more about Bike & Build, pick up the latest issue of The Index (pg. 7).