If you had the opportunity to bike across the country for a righteous cause, would you take it?
Meet Professor Patrick Johnson, a criminal justice professor here at Fredonia. Professor Johnson started teaching in Fredonia back in the Fall of 2012. Before becoming a professor, he was the warden of the Chautauqua County Jail.
Aside from working at the university part time, Professor Johnson is also a full time adventurer. Last summer, he fulfilled his life long dream of biking across the country.
When searching the web for cross-country bike trips, he came across the Fuller Center Bike Adventure.
The Fuller Center is a non-profit organization, devoted to providing housing for people living in poverty worldwide. This is made possible with the help of volunteers, year-round fundraising and partnerships with churches, schools, businesses and other organizations.
The bike trips are a major source of funding for the Fuller Center. They plan out yearly rides across the country, along the east and west coast, as well as a few smaller trips throughout the year. All participants must pay a registration fee, and are expected to meet a personal fundraising goal before the ride.
Last summer, the cross-country trip started in Seattle, and went all the way to Washington DC. They made plenty of notable stops along the way, including West Yellowstone, Lincoln, NE and Indianapolis.
The group biked 70 miles a day on average, from one rest stop to the next. They slept on church pews and school gymnasium floors all along the way. Occasionally they took rest days, as well as “build days”, where they would help build a house alongside local Fuller Center volunteers.
Initially, Professor Johnson saw the bike adventure as a way to achieve his personal goal. He wanted to ride his bike across the country ever since he was 14 years old. Within the first few weeks, his perspective on the trip changed entirely. It became less about himself, and more about working as a team to help fulfill the Fuller Center’s mission.
But it wasn’t a smooth ride the entire way. On the 4th day of the trip, Professor Johnson had his bike stolen in Spokane, WA. He checked with all the local bike shops, but none of them had a bike in his size. It seemed as if his ride was coming to an early finish.
Luckily, he was in contact with an old friend living in Montana. They met in 1972, and have been pen pals ever since. She drove three and a half hours to pick him up, and the bike shop in her town ended up having a bike that was his size. This was Professor Johnson’s first time seeing her in over 40 years, yet she took him in and treated him like family without hesitation.
Despite the bump in the road, Professor Johnson was able to remain positive for the remainder of the trip. He met some incredible people along the way, most of which he’s still in contact with to this day. The riders consisted of people from all age groups, some as young as 10 years old!
To this day, Professor Johnson is still an advocate for the Fuller Center. He does everything he can to help raise awareness, and spread the word about the Fuller Center’s mission. He even ended up recruiting me as an intern for the east coast ride!
When I last met with Professor Johnson, he said something that really stuck with me. He pointed out the window in his office, and said:
“Every stone out there has your name on it. Every single blade of grass has your name on it. They’re all out there waiting for you, waiting to be discovered.”
All photos courtesy of Professor Patrick Johnson.