Biking and Building for a Cause

OWU student planning to combine exercise with service—across 17 states

Ann Merrell ’12. (Photo by Kelsey Kerstetter ’12)

Some people spend a few hours on the bicycle a week to get a good workout. But for Ann Merrell ’12 and 28 other young adults around the country, they are not just biking for exercise; they are biking for a cause.

Merrell is part of the Bike and Build program in which she will be biking across the United States—starting in Providence, Rhode Island and ending just outside of San Francisco, California.

“We’re going to be biking across 17 states and stopping every six or seven days to help in the building of a house with groups such as Habitat for Humanity and Rebuild It Together. We are also giving presentations along the way about the affordable housing cause and the lack of affordable housing in the United States as well as telling people how to get involved,” says Merrell.

This trip is the perfect opportunity for her to do something pertaining to the outdoors during the summer and community service at the same time, she says.

“I’m excited to learn more about the cause and how it affects people’s lives. It is so fundamental that you have a place to live from a human rights perspective. I think it will be really powerful to meet people who are without a home and physically contribute to this cause. I’ve done a lot on an activism level but have not directly contributed, so I’m excited that this trip allows me to do both.”

A big part of going on the trip is fundraising. Merrell says she has to raise at least $4,000 and the money will help the cause.

“The money goes to the houses we are helping to build, and I’m a little more than halfway there,” she says.

Merrell has been working with Habitat for Humanity to prepare for the trip, and is eager to give back to the organization.

“I get to choose where $500 of my fundraising goes and I’m donating that to Delaware Habitat for Humanity. They are helping me prepare, so I wanted to give back to them.”

Bike and Build was founded in 2002. The organization benefits affordable housing and empowers young adults to be active in community service. The organization  has donated more than $2.7 million to affordable housing groups throughout the country.

About Ann Merrell: She is a junior from Chicago, Illinois. She is a double major in International Studies and Spanish, as well as a member of the International Studies Student Board. She is Vice President of Standards for her sorority, Kappa Kappa Gamma, Membership Director for Panhellenic Council and Co-President of Amnesty International. After graduation, she wants to go on to law school to be a human rights lawyer.

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