After witnessing the impacts homelessness and poor housing conditions can have on developing minds and bodies, a central Ohio native has decided to dedicate his summer to bringing attention to those issues.
After graduating from Upper Arlington High School in 2007, Dan Crawford's career path took him to inner cities in Chicago and now Denver, where he teaches high school math and science.
As a teacher, Crawford said he's noticed a difference in learning among students who come to school well-rested and fed, and those with sleepy eyes and empty bellies.
Because of that, Crawford and his wife, fellow Denison University graduate and teacher Lauren Sabo Crawford, have decided to raise money and awareness this summer about the need for affordable housing throughout the nation.
They've agreed to join Bike and Build, a national nonprofit organization through which they'll spend 10 weeks biking an average of 71 miles per day.
During 13 stops along the way from Portland, Maine, to Santa Barbara, Calif., the couple will work with different affordable housing organizations such as Habitat for Humanity and Rebuilding Together to help build affordable homes for families in need.
"Through our teaching, we realized how important the affordable housing element is," Crawford said. "We found it's probably one of, if not the most limiting factors (students) do face in learning."
The couple will begin their trek June 17, and they'll be joined by 30 other cyclists and three trip leaders.
Their route will take them through Pittsfield, Mass., St. Louis, Mo., and Tulsa, Okla.
They'll also work in Yellow Springs, Ohio, and they plan to be in Columbus July 8 and 9.
In the meantime, they're preparing by biking at least 500 miles prior to the trip.
"We're riding in all types of conditions and building up," Crawford said. "I've never done anything nearly to the extent we will this summer."
In addition to physical training, Crawford said he and his wife are working toward raising $4,500 each, which will be donated to affordable housing organizations.
The fundraising goal is shared by each member of the cross-country trip. Those who wish to support Crawford can do so by mailing a check to Bike & Build with "Dan Crawford" on the memo line, at 6153 Ridge Ave., Philadelphia, Pa., 19128.
Additionally, the couple's progress can be followed through a blog at danandlaurenbikeandbuild.blogspot.com.
"Our goal is spreading the word to anybody we know and then sharing this message," Crawford said. "We feel like it's a really good cause and we're excited to build up even past our goal."