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06/12/2014 | Created by Darla Martin Tucker

This spring nine La Sierra University students and staff pedaled their bikes 30 miles to the beach for some fun in the sun, and to help future senior students stay the course with their education.

The Ride-for-a-Cause team of La Sierra University staff and students biked 30-60 miles to raise funds for a senior endowment.
Senior Class Vice President Andrew Pedersen, third from right, and his friends biked 60 miles for Ride-for-a-Cause.
Pedaling along the scenic Green River biking path for La Sierra's Ride-for-a-Cause senior endowment fundraiser.

Called Ride-for-a-Cause, the event raised nearly $1,000 to seed an endowment fund intended to help senior students cover remaining tuition balances prior to graduation. The fund will be announced during this year’s commencement on June 15 as one of four gifts from the senior class. The graduates are also giving the campus an ATM machine for the student center, chairs and blankets for the last First Service worship event held outdoors each year, and funds to repair the baptismal pool on Founders’ Green. The class raised approximately $4,200 in total for the four gifts.

“Many [class] officers knew about seniors who were struggling,” said religious studies/pre-nursing major and class Vice President Andrew Pedersen, in reference to the endowment fund. “We wanted to start something that would last and have a chance to effect people who really need it.”

“We wanted to raise money to start an endowment fund for seniors to pay that last $100. We thought this would be a good way to raise it, and a fun way,” said senior accounting major and class treasurer Jazmyn Williams.

Marjorie Robinson, Student Life associate vice president and dean of students spearheaded the fund development project and bike ride with the senior class. “I chose this project because in my interaction with students I realized that seniors have a particularly arduous burden of trying to pay off their bills, complete their classes, balance work and outside course requirements and many other stressors as they finish up their journey at La Sierra,” she said. “I thought that it would be nice to start a scholarship fund that qualified seniors would be able to access if they were in need of that last bit of money to complete the payment of their bill. It’s the university’s opportunity to make a long lasting impression on the students as they walk out the door.”

The riders solicited sponsors and paid $20 each to ride. They received jerseys for participating in the event. The group traveled along a scenic paved bike path from the Green River trailhead in nearby Corona to Huntington Beach, sometimes challenged by strong head winds. Obed Olivarria, one of the class sponsors, Michelle Runnels and Kasha Robinson, two project supporters, greeted the riders at the beach with sack lunches. Three riders loaded their bikes into vehicles for the drive back home.  

Pedersen and five friends decided to ride their bikes back along the paved path, pedaling a total of 60 miles. “It was not required for us to make the return trip, but we all agreed to do it before we set out,” Pedersen said. “It’s a fun ride.”

Robinson borrowed a friend’s bike to participate in the event. She was determined to go the distance and received a bit of inspiration from a fellow rider at just the right time. “When I was about 12 miles from my final destination, [Counseling Center clinical therapist] Dan Nyiradi, a veteran rider who had already arrived, texted me a picture of the beach and said ‘you’re almost there.’ That gave me the inspiration and encouragement to make it the rest of the way.”

Williams rode with Robinson for the five-hour bike trip. “The first 20 miles were fine,” Williams said. “The next five miles I really had to dig deep for some energy. The last five miles it was like, ‘can somebody come pick us up?’

“This ride for me has so many analogies to the journey of pursuing and completing an educational degree, but it also very closely relates to our everyday life long journey,” said Robinson. “I was pleased to have accomplished this on behalf of the senior class, and my hope is that it will in so many ways be a continual blessing to others.”