By Aandrew Yourell, Staff Writer
For the average college student, the summer break is a time to relax, hang out with friends, decompress from the school year and work to make some money before the fall.
But for UNH freshman Emily Lane, this summer will be spent trekking across the country on her bicycle as part of the Bike and Build program.
“Basically the whole point of it is to raise awareness for affordable housing,” Lane said.
The Bike and Build program that Lane will embark on not only includes a 4,011-mile ride from Portsmouth to Vancouver, but also makes stops every couple of days to build housing for low-income families.
Riders also spend time giving presentations to raise awareness of the issues surrounding poverty and homelessness. Coming from one of New Hampshire’s more affluent towns, Bedford, it’s something that isn’t lost on Lane.
“I came to the realization that I’m so fortunate,” she said. “I grew up in a very privileged town, and a very good school system, and New Hampshire, it’s so nice here. I think I took a lot for granted.”
Lane is a self-described athlete, who competed for the Bedford High School swim and crew teams. She’s currently on the UNH crew team and has begun competing in sprint triathlons. But she knows that she’s been fortunate to have such opportunities.
“I think like, ‘if I didn’t have a home, I wouldn’t be able to focus on sports, family, friends, education,’ like, that wouldn’t have happened … it’s a very basic thing that you don’t even think twice about,” she said. “I just didn’t realize how much I had.”
But these comments—and the decision to participate in the Bike and Build program—don’t come from an 18-year-old just realizing how lucky she’s been. Bike and Build is something that Lane has been set on doing for years; this summer is merely the first opportunity she’ll have.
“I have been attending an all-girls camp for the past 10, 11 years. And when I was a camper, I remember that there was a counselor that would send postcards to the camp, and letters all the time, depending on which state she was in,” said Lane. “And she was basically just telling us about her adventure, and what she was doing. I thought that was the coolest thing ever.”
“I was 16 years old at the time,” she continued, when she saw a YouTube video detailing one of the Bike and Build rides. “And you have to be 18 years old, so I waited, and this year I was like, ‘yeah, I’m doing it, let’s go.’”
Lane now spends her summers as a counselor at the camp, but will be taking the summer off for the ride. The ride will set forth from Portsmouth in early June, and will conclude when Lane reaches Vancouver, British Columbia, on Aug. 28, which is move-in day for UNH students.
Giving up her summer is something that Lane doesn’t mind doing, though.
“I guess I’m just used to it. Bedford—not a lot to do—so why not?” Lane joked. “I’ve been a camp counselor the last three years, so I’ve basically been gone all summer and been working there.”
Part of Lane’s commitment to the Bike and Build program includes a fundraising goal of $4,500. Interested donors can find Lane’s profile on the Bike and Build website, bikeandbuild.org, which includes more information on the program, Lane and an option to donate.