Lauren Sabo-Crawford and Dan Crawford had 4,000 miles of memorable moments as they biked across the country this summer, but Sabo-Crawford’s favorite came in Springfield, Mo.
The married couple’s cross-country journey was part of Bike and Build, a national nonprofit that organizes affordable housing projects along a 15-city, 75-day route. At their Springfield stop, Sabo-Crawford and a few members of her 33-person riding team were working at a Habitat for Humanity building supply store when a customer inquired about the trip and asked what she could do to help. Sabo-Crawford told the woman that the team didn’t have breakfast provided for the next morning. “So this woman I had met for all of five minutes says 'I’ll call you in an hour,’” she says. The woman met up with the team later that evening with breakfast casseroles, six gallons of milk, eight jugs of orange juice, an assortment of deli meats, and about $300 worth of fresh foods. She even volunteered to host the team next year.
It was the kind of experience that helped restore the couple’s faith in humanity after teaching for the past three years in Denver, where their students faced daunting challenges just to make it to school most days. The trip allowed them to experience a country where—even in neighborhoods where “no trespassing signs” also promised no warning shots—absolute strangers would invite them into their homes.
But the trip wasn’t all about pedaling and building. Each rider had to raise a minimum of $4,500 prior to the trip. The money would later be allocated in grants to sup- port affordable housing projects across the country. (As a team, they raised more than $164,000). The team also was responsible for prepping and running various community meetings during their tour. “We’d bike 100 miles, maybe have an hour to shower, and then we’d host a bike clinic or give a presentation to the community on housing issues,” says Sabo-Crawford. “It showed me that young people are really willing and capable of making a difference.” They often were able to see the direct effects of their work, building alongside the families who would eventually live in the homes they were helping assemble. “These are people who are working really hard—it’s a hand up, not a handout,” Sabo-Crawford says.
The couple is now looking into launching a nonprofit cycling program for children with disabilities. Both longtime Special Olympics volunteers and coaches, they are interested in employing specially designed tandem bikes that would allow co-riders without a disability to take over should their partner get tired. “There has been a lot of research with cycling and people with different movement disorders,” says Sabo- Crawford. “It’s really amazing how it stimulates the body and the brain.”