At this time last year, Bronx resident Courtney Bibb didn’t even own a bike. Now, he’s halfway through a roughly 3,000-mile ride across the country.
On Oct. 1, despite the rain, Bibb rode across the George Washington Bridge and just kept on going. He’s planning to ride from New York City to Los Angeles, stopping in 20 cities on the way and volunteering at a local charity in each one.
He will spend three days working for each charity, which he chose based on the diverse set of needs each serves in the community. They range from animal shelters to nonprofit theaters to a Ronald McDonald house.
He hopes his effort, which he’s documenting on Instagram, Google+ and other platforms, will inspire people to volunteer in their own communities and raise money for charity. He set up a GoFundMe page with the goal of raising $20,000 — $1,000 for each charity he’s selected.
“I’m putting in the legwork and I’m putting in the effort to put these charities on a pedestal because they deserve it,” he said, adding that he looked for organizations that don’t normally receive wide-scale attention or funding.
He said the idea came to him over the summer, and it was partially inspired by the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. He said he was impressed by the way it took over the internet – but he was concerned that the true message of charity was lost in the quest for ‘likes.’
Bibb said he was raised with a deep sense of civic duty instilled in him by his mother and grandmother, who were both avid volunteers in Spring Valley, where the grew up.
“It’s something that is easy to me,” he said of helping others. “The hard part is riding the bicycle.”
It took him three months of disciplined training to get ready for the ride, which he’s dubbed the 20/20 C.harity A.ction B.enefits Cycling Challenge. He started training on stationary bikes at the gym – riding up to 80 miles a day – until he bought his white Trek 1.1 road bike from Bellitte Bicycles in Jamaica, Queens.
Bibb, an IT consultant who works contract-to-contract, said he’s saved about $14,000 to finance the endeavor. Before he left, he gave up his apartment and put his belongings into storage. He told just five people before he left town. “I wanted to create some shock and awe,” he said.
On Friday, Bibb arrived in Wichita, Kansas — about halfway through his journey – to work at his 12th charity, Youth Entrepreneurs, which teaches business and entrepreneurial classes to high school students, and where he would talk to students about planning an event from start to finish and “putting passion behind a purpose,” said Jessica Born, the organization’s marketing and special events coordinator.
“It’s a wonderful way to raise awareness to not only health, self-development and introspection but also that there are so many causes across the country,” Born said of Bibb’s journey.
On the way, Bibb has hit a few rough spots – a broken inner tube on his bike that held him back a few days and required repairs, some rough terrain and unexpected obstacles like a dilapidated bridge he decided to cross rather than avert – but he said he’s amazed at the things he’s seen and the people he’s met.
While in St. Louis, Missouri, Bibb said he gained a sense of understanding about the Ferguson protests and what people were feeling that he never could have gained just reading news headlines.
When he embarked on the trip, he hoped he would achieve just this: “I want to see my country as it is” and be able to talk about it from a knowledgeable standpoint.
With at least 1,400 miles still ahead of him, Bibb said he has no regrets. “This the happiest moment of my life, to be providing smiles for people along the way.”