By Nicole Gennarelli
Communication Studies graduate student, Josh Rasmussen biked across the country this summer raising money and building houses for the less fortunate with an organization called Bike & Build.
Rasmussen, originally from Wayne, Neb., graduated from Wayne State College with a Communications degree with an emphasis in leadership and public relations as well as a minor in Spanish.
According to Bike & Build’s website, it “organizes cross-country bicycle trips which benefit affordable housing groups.” Bike & Build is able to fund the affordable housing projects through pre-arranged gifts and the events are implemented by the participants in the program. It allows young adults to engage in community service opportunities while building important affordable housing across the nation.
“I had heard about Bike & Build from a friend, but I didn’t know anybody on the trip beforehand,” said Rasmussen. “I wanted an adventure, but I also wanted to be able to do some good as well. This trip combined both of those goals.”
Rasmussen said each person had to raise $4,000 before the trip. Some of the money covered trip expenses, but most of it went back to the affordable housing cause.
“There were 33 of us on the trip, which included four leaders,” he said. “Only two people in the group had done a cross country trip before.”
The 33 travelers rode 70 days, 4,000 miles and made millions of memories. Around every sixth or seventh day, the group would spend the day working on a house.
“While Bike & Build isn’t affiliated with Habitat for Humanity, all the houses we built on were Habitat houses,” Rasmussen said. “There actually isn’t one U.S. County where fulltime minimum wage affords fair market rent. It’s pretty crazy.”
Rasmussen said biking up the Grand Teton Mountains in Wyoming was extremely hard, but the prettiest mountain range the group climbed. The scenery made the climb worthwhile.
“I also came around a bend in the road and was 100 yards from a black bear which was pretty exciting,” he said. “Also, the people I met, both during the trip and volunteering, have been spectacular. It’s amazing to find that when you’re doing something for a good cause, so many people step forward and help out. Finally, being able to see the U.S. from the seat of a bicycle has been amazingly awesome, all the time sharing some laughs with some great people. It’s truly been a life changing experience.”
Nicole is a senior public relations major and a marketing assistant for the College of Communication and Information.