nyone who would hop on a bike and ride 4,250 miles to raise money for a bunch of birds must be a saint, right?
Well, Georgia Southern U. sophomore Saint Rooks is certainly living up to his name. He devoted his entire summer to a lone cross-country bike ride to raise $75,000 for a new outdoor learning center at his school's Center for Wildlife Education, a santuary for bald eagles and other native birds of prey.
The inspiration for this trip came from another multi-state jaunt. "I got the idea when I was hiking the Appalachian Trail," Rooks explains from the road. "I talked to some other people who had done it as a fundraiser."
As soon as he announced his plans, the center's staff eagerly began soliciting donations to meet the goal. "He's just an all-around terrific person," says Wendy Denton, the center's educational program coordinator. "Not only is he a great student, but he's wonderful with the animals, kids and all the visitors."
So, on June 11, Rooks strapped on the spandex, hopped on his LeMonde, and began the trek from Florence, Ore., to Savannah, Ga. He packed 10 pounds of clothes, camping and biking gear and ate a strict diet of fruits and vegetables to replenish the 6,000 calories lost daily during the ride.
After putting a few 125-mile days under his belt, he quickly jumped ahead of his 60-mile-a-day schedule just in time to bump into a few friends from the Appalachian Trail adventure on his birthday. Although Rooks would never drink and ride, he did indulge in a little birthday fiesta. "We partied a little, and I even got a motel room for my birthday," he says.
As for Georgia Southern's patron saint, his quest for adventure will continue next summer on a sea kayaking excursion with friends. Only this time, it won't be for the birds.
By Julie Keller, Assistant Editor
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