Cross country will take on a whole new meaning for Hobart senior Henry Smith this summer. A four-year member of the Statesmen cross-country team, Smith will hop on a bicycle and pedal across the United States, spending his first summer after graduation working with the charitable organization Bike & Build.
Smith will take part in Bike and Build’s 2015 Connecticut to California’s Affordable Housing Impact Trip. He will join 32 other riders in New Haven, Connecticut, and begin his cross-country journey on June 13. The trip will begin with two days of orientation in New Haven followed by a build day with Providence Habitat for Humanity. Riders will then begin the 4,128-mile trek to Half Moon Bay, California, participating in 15 different build days across the country. Smith’s route will take him through Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, and California.
“I am incredibly excited to bike across the country this summer,” Smith said. “In particular, I am looking forward to seeing the Rockies. I have been camping in the Adirondacks and hiked the highest peak, Mt. Marcy, but I am looking forward to seeing mountains three times its size. The opportunity to see the country coast-to-coast on a bike, to see so many places that would otherwise go unnoticed is something I am truly looking forward to.”
Bike & Build, now in its 11th season, raises funds for affordable housing projects throughout the country. The main mission of the organization is to spread awareness of affordable housing throughout the country, to inform not only the riders, but also the community members that riders meet throughout the summer. To date, Bike & Build has contributed more than $4.5 million to housing groups to fund projects planned and executed by young adults.
Smith first learned about Bike & Build from Andrew Baird, a 2014 participant in the program, who graduated from Hobart in 2014. Baird participated in the Central U.S. trip which started in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and ended in Portland, Oregon.
“I am excited to help raise money and awareness for affordable housing,” Smith said. “I have been very fortunate in my life to have a home to live in, but I realize that this is not the situation that everyone is born into. I think that volunteering with Habitat for Humanity, building houses, is something that everyone who is capable of doing should at least once. Over the past two summers, I have worked a construction job with a local general contractor. I am excited to get to put these skills to use in volunteer work.”
On campus, Smith is a critical social studies major and turned in a season-best 8k time of 32:47.80 at the Liberty League Championships. For the past three years, he has served as the president of the HWS’ American Cancer Relay for Life. Smith is also a member of the Druid Honor Society.