By Kelly Chian ’16
Biking from Portland to the hills of Ohio to the Mississippi River to the rim of the Grand Canyon to the coast of Santa Barbara, Dan Crawford will embark on a journey across the country in hopes to end inequality with housing.
Crawford, a 2007 UAHS graduate, lives in Denver, CO and is a math and science teacher. He has participated in several volunteer events including special education and affordable housing.
“Growing up in UA provided me with the opportunities to learn and grow as a person to be able to have a positive impact on the world around me,” Crawford said,.
His experience propelled him to become a teacher and serve others.
“I started teaching as a way to empower others with knowledge and experiences so that they would have the tools necessary to be positive, productive members of society,” Crawford said. “I wanted to serve the underserved in low-income neighborhoods.”
This year, he is participating in Bike and Build, an independent non-profit program that allows people to build houses across the country while also donating money to the different affordable housing programs including Habitat for Humanity, Rebuilding Together, Common Ground and COVER Home Repair. The participants are required to raise $4,500, for the project. Crawford has raised $2,500 so far. He will be riding with his wife, Lauren, who he met in college at Denison University.
“As we did in college, we have started working again on project build sites to directly support the cause that we see impacting our students on a daily basis,” Crawford said. “This summer, we are looking to take that commitment to a new level through Bike and Build, pushing ourselves physically and mentally to raise awareness and directly benefit others.”
This spring, Crawford and his wife will bike 500 miles to prepare. On the trip, each biking day averages around 80 miles.
“We will ride our bikes for 80 days, covering 4,000 miles, and helping with construction while raising awareness for affordable housing in 13 different cities,” Crawford said.
They will embark on a journey from Portland, Maine to Santa Barbara, CA while stopping in Columbus, Ohio on July 8 and 9. Of those 80 days, 16 will be spent building and three resting.
“We are riding in order to raise awareness for a very important cause, affordable housing,” Crawford said. “As teachers in an-inner city school in Denver, Lauren and I have seen firsthand the very negative impact that not having a safe and affordable place to live can have on people and their families.”
At each new location, the riders give Powerpoint presentations to the neighborhoods about housing.
According to UN, by 2020, the world slum population will be about one billion.
“These young people are having opportunities taken from them by not having the same access to a strong, consistent education,” Crawford said. “I have gained a new respect for my teachers and the education that I received.”
He hopes that his work for affordable housing changes the lives of others by giving back.
“We are excited to directly improve lives by helping construction projects that will provide new opportunities to succeed in life,” he said.
After teaching for the students, he saw how they have a “fundamental inequality” that he hopes to lessen. He saw an increased amount of African Americans and Hispanic Americans struggling due to their socioeconomic status.
“We are excited to directly improve lives by helping with construction projects that will provide them with new opportunities to succeed in life,” he said.
Crawford is optimistic about his journey across the country and hopes to continue his volunteering work beyond Bike and Build.
“We are excited about a once-in-a-lifetime challenge,” Crawford said. “And a way to experience the world while making it a little bit better.”
Image Caption: Dan and Lauren Crawford pose in front of a lake in Colorado. They are training for Bike and Build in the summer.