Magazine On-line [spring 2009]
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Bike ride raises thousands for charity

Sarah MatherThe charities World Vision and Save the Children have Sarah Mather ’08 to thank for her cross-country bike ride that raised $6,000 for the organizations.

Mather began her journey in Yorktown, Va., on August 16, and traveled through Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Utah, and Nevada before ending in San Francisco on September 20, four days sooner than her goal of a 40-day trip. Depending on the terrain, Mather rode an average of 65-85 miles per day.

She began planning the trip in February, after writing a paper for a senior seminar class led by religion professor Paul Jones. Reflecting on the book God’s Politics by John Wallis, Mather said that Americans have the resources to help people, but not the motivation.

“I had become disillusioned,” she said.

After brainstorming with several of her professors and her pastor, Mather came up with the idea of the bike trip as her way of making a contribution to those in need. Rather than petition corporations for donations, she sent letters to individuals.

“I wanted the fundraising to be very community based,” she said. “People donated whatever they felt like they should donate.”

She rode by herself, but a support team followed in a car. “I would have been nervous riding through the desert if I was completely alone,” she said, Nevada being the hardest part of the trip.

Reaching her destination was an overwhelming and surreal experience, Mather said, and she was left with a renewed faith in the generosity of people.

“This trip taught me that people do want to help. People took me in; I stayed with families all along the way. It was a huge blessing and great surprise.”

Mather doesn’t have any plans for another cross-country trip. “I don’t think my parents would let me do another bike trip like that one,” she said, but she does plan to continue to raise money for charity. She’s not sure of the form her next project will take, but is considering organizing a 3-on-3 basketball tournament in Elizabethtown, Ky.

A native of Elizabethtown, Mather is a volunteer coach for the women’s basketball team at Asbury College and works as a personal trainer at Transylvania. For her Transy degree, she completed a double major in exercise science and religion.

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