By: Catherine McLaughlin, Diversions Editor
This summer, Brooke Kinney, junior, biked across the country to raise money for organ transplant research and technology. I sat down with Kinney this week to learn more about his trip.
CM: How did this trip come to be?
BK: In February, my childhood friend named Brandon Kerrigan asked me if I wanted to go on a bike trip across the country with him to raise money for organ transplants. Brandon, who received a heart transplant at 14, has always wanted to do something like a big bike trip while also raising money for a non-profit organization. I’ve known Brandon since sixth grade and said yes.
CM: Tell me about the non-profit you guys raised money for.
BK: We raised money for United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), a non-profit that provides innovative technology to shorten the time it takes to match organ donors with receivers.
CM: What was the fundraising and sponsorship process like?
BK: We created a donated page on everydayhero.org. We promoted our page through friends and social media, which was the main way we were able to raise money. Through everyone’s generosity and donations, we were able to raise $33,000 for UNOS. Brandon reached out to companies to see if they would be interested in sponsoring us. Our local bike shop was one, and offered to fix our bikes and give us riding jerseys for the trip. Go-Pro also sponsored us and gave us free cameras to track our trip.
CM: Tell me about the trip itself.
BK: Two days after Spring 2018 finals, I flew out to Santa Monica, California, where I met Brandon, and his sister and her three friends who followed us along trip. The first day of our trip we met with people from the Be Alive campaign, which is a film venture that makes short films about people who are alive and doing cool things. They sponsored our ride and had professional film crew come and film and interview us on our first day. The second day, we started the trip off the Santa Monica Pier on the ocean and biked for 25 days until we reached the pier of Yorktown, Va. We wanted to start and finish ocean to ocean since we thought it would complete the idea of traveling the country coast to coast. We camped in sites in the desert about 65 percent of the nights and got a motel to shower on the days we didn’t camp.
CM: How about the days in-between? What were those like?
BK: We biked for an average of 130 miles per day. We took two rest days and biked the remaining 23 days. The first couple of days felt like we were getting nowhere and like we had been going forever. But towards the middle, we began to feel like we were halfway there. We burned about 7000 calories a day and as a result our appetites were huge.
CM: You must have been exhausted on the last day. How were you feeling?
BK: We saved the 20 miles for the last day so we could just enjoy the last leg of the trip. Because of that, the last day of biking into the pier felt great. Our bodies were used to biking at that point and saving such a short distance for the day let us enjoy it and reflect on the trip. Both of our families were there to greet us which was really nice.
CM: You guys burned an average of 7000 calories per day. Did you train for the trip?
BK: The longest ride we rode together was about 40 miles. We also worked out and mountain-biked together to get ready for the trip, however, we didn’t train much.
CM: Tell us about your path across the country. Where do you stop? What was it like?
BK: It was a straight shot through Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Virginia. We rode along Route 66 for most of the trip so we hit a lot of historic towns. Some of my favorite places were Flagstaff and William, Ariz., and then our stop in Nashville for the day. I got a sense for how big the U.S. is and how the cultures vary so much from place to place.