The University of Alabama’s College of Arts and Sciences has published an article about how and why Alabama grads Henry Downes and Connor Ciment decided to put their skills into action to help others by volunteering to lead The Fuller Center Bicycle Adventure — the single biggest fundraiser for The Fuller Center for Housing’s work around the world. You can read the complete article at the link below.
Connor Ciment and Henry Downes sit a few feet apart at the headquarters of The Fuller Center for Housing in Americus, Ga., as they finalize plans for the 2017 Fuller Center Bicycle Adventure’s spring, summer and fall rides. But as the University of Alabama’s Crimson White student newspaper reports, they’re used to working near each other as they were roommates at the University of Alabama, the school from which they both graduated in 2015. The Crimson White features the dynamic duo in this article about how they put off graduate studies and job hunting to work with The Fuller Center to help families have simple, decent places to live.
2017 was already shaping up to be the biggest year of the Fuller Center Bicycle Adventure ever. Now, considering this morning’s announcement of a new ride, it definitely will be!
Alongside three different summer routes, a spring ride down the Natchez Trace, and a weekend Silver Comet ride, the Bike Adventure is excited to announce an entirely new ride: Dirt to D.C.!
Dirt to D.C. (September 16 – 24, 2017) is a unique ride in many ways — primarily in that it will take place on unpaved roads. The weeklong ride will follow the Great Allegheny Passage and the Chesapeake and Ohio Towpath from Pittsburgh, Pa., to Washington D.C.
The 2016 Bike Adventure year set fundraising and participation records, raising $300,000 for the first time, as well as prompting a split into two rides to accommodate growing interest.
2017 will be the 10th year of the Bike Adventure, with a fundraising goal of $400,000. Help us raise our two-millionth dollar by participating as a cyclist, or donating to the cause!
For Steffani Zavala, participation in the 2016 Fuller Center Bicycle Adventure was only the beginning of her love of the organization. Alongside her husband Luke, Steffani rode her bike from Seattle, Wash., to Washington, D.C., to raise funds and awareness for The Fuller Center for Housing.
Full of creative energy, Steffani has a passion for designing her own jewelry. “I first became interested in learning to make jewelry when I took my college roommate to a jewelry making class in downtown Chicago for her birthday. I had such a blast that I came home and started taking apart some of my broken jewelry and seeing if I could turn them into new pieces,” Steffani said of the beginnings of her interest. “From there, I developed a collection of beads using not only pieces of old jewelry, but bead donations from my mom and her friends, and gemstones I found at local jewelry shows.”
Steffani first shared this interest with others when she decided to make homemade jewelry for her bridesmaids as a unique gift. When it came to taking this interest to the next level, Steffani was hesitant to begin selling her work. She was interested in the online marketplace known as Etsy, where anyone can sell their creations. Before taking the plunge, she had a few criteria: it had to feel right, be symbolic to a life experience, and benefit an organization she cared about. After her 2016 Bike Adventure experience, the Fuller Center was at the forefront of her mind.
“I wanted to remember the silly things we saw on the road, the conversations we had with each other, and the quirks of each of us.”
“When I realized that my jewelry restoration process could be a metaphor for the housing restoration projects that The Fuller Center does, I couldn’t get the idea out of my mind and started making pair after pair of earrings — more than 75 since being home from the trip, ending in August,” says Steffani of her post-adventure inspiration. “I only have about 25 or so listings on Etsy now, but I’m continuing to post them weekly, at least.” She said 75 percent of the proceeds are donated to The Fuller Center.
The earrings that Steffani makes are thought through individually, often expressing memories. “Each pair of earrings has a story, just like the people The Fuller Center builds houses for and the volunteers and employees who make it happen. This summer, instead of collecting souvenirs from every state or town we visited, I chose to collect stories. I wanted to remember the silly things we saw on the road, the conversations we had with each other, and the quirks of each of us. By making my earrings, I turn those moments into visual artwork pieces, materializing my experience.”
“I want the themes of listening to our hearts and hearing where we are being called to serve in this life to be prevalent–hence the name of my store, EndEARRINGly. The definition of endearingly is, ‘inspiring affection; to make dear or beloved.’ This name perfectly fits my vision.”
RELATED VIDEO — 2017 Summer Ride Announcement
The 2016 Fuller Center Bicycle Adventure set a goal of raising $250,000 this year for The Fuller Center’s work of building and repairing homes in partnership with families needing simple, decent places to live.
Donors to riders on the 3,500-mile summer ride from Seattle to D.C. and the 400-mile weeklong spring ride down The Natchez Trace Parkway smashed that goal, contributing a record $296,000 (so far) toward the riders’ efforts. That total was boosted by record participation by cyclists, requiring the summer Adventure to split into two packs starting their summer rides one week apart.
In 2017, there will again be two summer rides, but they won’t be following the same paths. Allow our route leaders Connor Ciment and Henry Downes to tell you more in the video below. Then, please visit FullerCenterBikeAdventure.org for more information.
For two weeks this summer, Bob Hibma pedaled his bicycle from Lincoln, Nebraska, to Peoria, Illinois during two weeklong segments of the Fuller Center Bicycle Adventure. Bob sat down with the Northwest Iowa Review to talk about how he first got involved with the charity ride and what the experience is like. The article also mentions Northwest Iowa’s Salem Reformed Church and the work they did with The Fuller Center during a service week in Pearl River, Louisiana.
The Fuller Center Bicycle Adventure wrapped up its record-setting 2016 Summer Ride in Washington, D.C., today, having raised more than $285,000 — and counting — for The Fuller Center’s work across the United States and around the world.
Funds are still being tallied, but the ride far exceeded its goal of $250,000 early in the 3,500-mile ride from Seattle to D.C. — an achievement accomplished the first few weeks of the ride. The ride also set new records for participation. In fact, the ride had to be divided into an Orange Ride that departed Seattle on June 11 and a Blue Ride that left a week later. The two rides merged on Friday and rode into D.C. together on Saturday.
Fuller Center President David Snell congratulated the riders Saturday on their safe and successful journey.
“The 2016 Summer Bicycle Adventure is now a part of our history — and what a ride it was, rides, actually,” Snell said. “Two groups of intrepid souls crossed the country, raising money and awareness and helping with some Fuller Center projects along the way. There’s no way to adequately thank them for their sacrifices — hopefully the memory of doing something truly remarkable, truly kind will be enough. Congratulations to all — to those who made the entire trip and to those who joined for a day or a week or two. You are true partners and friends to this ministry.”
Stay tuned to FullerCenter.org next week for more details about the ride’s success and future plans.
The record-shattering 2016 Fuller Center Bicycle Adventure — raising funds for and spreading awareness of our affordable housing ministry — will complete its 3,500-mile journey from Seattle to Washington, D.C., on Saturday. Today, ride leader Connor Ciment gave everyone a little 2-minute update from his bike as the riders into Maryland on a quiet, peaceful trail.