For Marcellus High School alum Andy Reagan, the decision to bicycle the 3,840 miles from Virginia to Oregon this summer with the Bike and Build program was a simple one to make.
"It was a win-win," Reagan said. "I wanted to bike across the country and this was a good cause."
Regan, 20, is a chemical engineering student at Virginia Tech, where he is a member of the cycling team. After hearing about a friend who had cycled cross-country, he was hooked on the idea -- and discovering the Bike and Build program gave him cause to tackle the challenge himself.
So on May 19, Reagan and a group of about 30 other cyclists will kick off their 74-day ride in Virginia Beach, riding an average of 70 miles per day across the country before reaching Portland on July 31.
Along the way, the group will stop weekly to participate in building homes to provide affordable housing in conjunction with groups like Habitat for Humanity.
"I'm getting really excited," Reagan said while on winter break from school. So far, he's raised $200 of the $4,000 needed for the trip. Nearly half of the money raised by Bike and Build each year is donated directly to affordable housing organizations throughout the country.
Bike and Build aims to create a connection between youth and activism, limiting the participation age at 25 years old. Cycling one of the program's nine routes offers young cyclists of all levels to see the country while fostering a volunteering spirit among the next generation of leaders.
For Reagan, no one aspect of the trip is the "most exciting" -- it's all thrilling.
Visiting Portland, a city that shares his enthusiasm for sustainability, will be a highlight, he said. But the journey of getting there is just as exciting for someone who has never left the time zone. Plus, when else would he get an opportunity like this?