Life of the Week: Two students bike to save unborn babies

221468_10150223023516667_1484300_oBiking for Babies has two missions this July. One is to bike from New Orleans to Chicago in eight days. The other is to help as many pregnant women, young families, and unborn children as they can.

Mike Schaefer and Jimmy Becker, both students at the University of Illinois, met while attending a FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) conference. The two became quick friends, thanks to their mutual love of endurance activities and strong sense of faith.

The men began a partnership of sorts, in which they would hold each other accountable for their actions, challenging the other to excel both physically and mentally. One day, Schaefer proposed the idea of a camping and biking trip. Becker suggested they turn the trip into a fundraiser. It was from there that Biking for Babies was born. Becker explains:

We decided we wanted to raise money for pregnancy resource centers. We knew what was going on [with abortion] and we would go pray outside of abortion clinics, but our involvement was somewhat limited or minimal. [Pregnancy resource centers] don’t have the means necessary to market their centers as much as they would like to, and we try to help encourage that so we can work together as a body of Christ and help them promote what they’re doing so they can focus on providing help for young families and women. Either one of us would say that this was an opportunity to get more involved and to glorify God.

Both Becker, who is heading back to U of I to earn a Master of Business Administration, and Schaefer, attending U of I graduate school for agriculture and engineering, were raised in rural Christian communities. Schaefer credits their families for instilling in them a love and respect for life:

From my experience I knew that my family and my church and community were pro-life and it wasn’t because we were necessarily political. It was an understanding of the way that life was lived among my family and friends. There was a real tangible affirmation that really inspired people and engaged them. Life being about sacrifice or challenge or fulfillment. These qualities were very much embraced by the people around me and these experiences compelled us to do Biking for Babies.

In 2009, Biking for Babies held their first ride and raised $15,000. In four years they’ve raised an incredible $100,000. Their goal for this next ride is to add $50,000 to that total. This year, the team consists of eleven riders representing different pregnancy resource centers, plus five college students riding in the support van. Each pregnancy center has a connection with one of the riders.

The trip from New Orleans to Chicago will take nine days, eight days of riding and one day of rest with an average of about 140 miles per day. But it isn’t all about raising money. A large goal of Biking for Babies is to raise awareness, as Schaefer explains:

What’s special for biking for babies is it’s really about our experiences growing up. Being pro-life, it’s not about being political. It’s about how your life has affected you. It’s about capturing those experiences and bringing them to people by literally biking through their communities. […] We’re really trying to turn it into a culture activity. It’s not just about raising money but associating [bikes and life] and that the qualities of bicycling have so much to do with pushing through life. […] If someone asked if [Biking for Babies] would exist if abortion didn’t. Yes. It’s about supporting people who have had difficulties in their lives. And we want to do what we can to help.

As for the future, Becker and Schaefer both have big plans for Biking for Babies – including bigger rides with bikers on different routes from around the country all converging in Chicago on the same day, and at least one biker representing a pregnancy center from each state. Their commitment has proven that these goals are not far out of reach.

This year, the goals of Biking for Babies became even more personal for Becker:

Earlier this year I was talking to a friend who was pregnant, and it was an unplanned pregnancy. She, being a faithful Christian, she found herself at odds not knowing what to do and she didn’t know about pregnancy resource centers. She was going to go to Planned Parenthood with the intention of seeking help, and that further proves the need to promote pregnancy resource centers. It’s not necessarily public knowledge. This made that much more real to me that this is something that is vitally important. [Pregnancy resource centers] need help and so this is one way to help them – just get the word out that they do exist; that they’re doing wonderful things. We just want to help women and young families in any way we can, and that’s why we ride.

You can support Biking for Babies by donating and cheering them on when they bike through your community

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