Starting May 21, junior Cody Hoyt will start a summer journey known as SC2SC on a bicycle across the United States as part of the Bike & Build program, taking several days off along the way to help build affordable housing.
Prior to joining the Bike & Build program, Hoyt had never even worn bike shorts. But his love of the outdoors, group physical experiences and community service were enough to persuade him to join the summer program.
“We have 30 riders and leaders so far,” said SC2SC Bike & Build trip leader Hope Hart. “We’ll follow the tradition and dip our tires in the ocean in Charleston. Over the course of 82 days, we’ll cross 14 states and bike over 4,269 miles before ending in Santa Cruz, California.”
While in Santa Cruz, Hoyt will participate in 14 build days where he will be partnering with affordable housing affiliates to help construct homes.
Bike & Build is a national nonprofit organization that raises awareness and money to support affordable housing. Last summer, Emma Kwiatkowski ’15 participated in a trip from New Haven, Connecticut, to Vancouver, Canada.
Hoyt knew Kwiatkowski through the improv comedy club she founded on campus, Laughelongs, and tracked her journey via social media. That was enough to spark his interest.
“Over the summer, when she was going across the country, she kept posting Instagram photos,” Hoyt said. “I remember this one day in July, I saw one photo [and thought], ‘I need to do this. It’s too cool not to.’ It’s kind of messed my academic plan up a little bit, because I still need to complete my communications internship, but at the moment, I have no regrets. I’m very excited about it.”
Since he’s from Oregon, Hoyt has visited a few of the states on the Bike & Build trip itinerary — but most of the states will be new adventures for him, one of the reasons Charleston to Santa Cruz was his top route choice.
“I really love immersive experiences that are purposeful and are designed to help others, as corny as that is, but are designed to have some long-term, big-picture impact,” Hoyt said. “I had a very emotional, disturbing sophomore year, and went through [a] very deep depression, so there is a small part in the back of my mind that says, ‘This is another way to show you what you can do and how far you’ve come.’”
Deciding on a trip and applying was only the beginning of the lengthy process. He had several benchmark goals to accomplish, from practice bike rides, build sites and fundraising goals. Currently, Hoyt has raised $2,566 for the cause and feels confident about completing his goal of $2,000 more, for a total of $4,500 toward building grants.
Hoyt has been fundraising since January, tirelessly working to complete his goal.
“I’ve been fundraising primarily through letters and social media, writing letters to prospective donors and then posting about it primarily on Facebook,” Hoyt said. “I’ve had close to 35 donors. It’s exciting that I have a lot of support.”
According to Hart, Bike & Build’s main goal is to help eliminate the country’s affordable housing crisis. Through riding bikes across the United States, participants will help advocate for the cause and assist building teams as well as fundraising. Hart said biking becomes an effective tool to spread the causes’ messages.
Hoyt looks forward to recapturing his joy of training for an athletic excursion and a reintroduction of his adventurous identity that has diminished in college. He has been learning about the cause and gaining an interest in the organization’s mission before the ride even begins.
Reaching the Pacific Ocean after a cross-country bike ride will be a huge accomplishment for Hoyt, but that’s just the beginning of his hopes for the trip and journey.
In addition to participating in weekly discussions about Bike & Build, their mission and the housing crisis, Hoyt also does practice builds with Habitat for Humanity and practice rides of 500 miles.
“Working with Cody has been great so far,” Hart said. “We’ve only been able to communicate via email and I’m excited to meet him in person. I respect Cody doing this trip in response to some flavor of existential angst. I can tell he’s a very motivated individual with an inquisitive mind and a passion to help others.”
While his schedule remains extremely busy as he approaches the end of the semester, the chance to spend the entire summer outdoors and working to help those who need it is truly priceless.
“I’m learning that the value of a roof over your head that you own is not quantifiable,” Hoyt said. “Bike & Build really emphasizes the ‘housing first’ philosophy: that you deal with other issues in people’s life after you give them a house. If you give them a house first, then it becomes a safe place and a comfortable place to start to figure out those things.”