Ridiculous costumes and 16-passenger vans

For ten years now, cyclists have been riding over 200 miles each February to raise money to put families in houses through Bikes Fight Poverty. They inspire us!

But as these riders will be quick to tell you, this event is only possible because of an army of rockstar volunteers who make Bikes Fight Poverty the best-supported, most fun charity bike ride out there.

I’d like you to meet two of these amazing volunteers.

Leah Hodges is coming up on her sixth time volunteering for the event as part of the Support and Gear (SAG) team. Not only does she fill up water bottles and spray necks with sunscreen throughout the ride, she does so while in costumes that can only be described as ridiculous (her words, not ours). She shows off hand-painted signs while singing and dancing and, well, basically having a blast. “Our motto when planning signs and costume changes,” she says, “is ‘make ‘em laugh or make ‘em cry.'”

Image: Rockstar volunteer Leah Hodges (left) with 1MISSION staffer Erin Petersen, who coordinates Bikes Fight Poverty.

For many riders, Bikes Fight Poverty is “the biggest physical and mental challenge they’ve ever faced,” Leah says. That’s why having an enthusiastic, encouraging support team makes all the difference.

“A smile and a refill of a water bottle at an aid station when they can hardly put a sentence together means the world. Serving up home-cooked meals and Oreo shakes makes you a hero! Seeing a dancing ninja turtle off in the distance is just enough distraction to keep the pedals moving to the next SAG sighting. Being that encouragement, motivation, and support is an honor and a joy to be a part of!”

If your style of volunteering is less “dancing ninja turtle” and more “behind the scenes practical,” I’d like you to meet Matt Graves, a first-time volunteer during our last ride.

Matt drove a 16-passenger van with a trailer in order to bring riders back from Mexico afterward with all their gear. At the midway point, he also shuttled riders back and forth from their hotel in Ajo. For these riders, getting the opportunity to rest while someone else did the work was a real life-saver.

Image: Earlier this year, Matt Graves took his sons on a build trip to Puerto Peñasco, Mexico, along with other Bikes Fight Poverty riders and volunteers. They worked alongside the Rosiles Ortiz family to build their new house.

“For this many people to ride back-to-back 100-mile days and bring awareness to the need for housing in Mexico was a special thing,” Matt says. “When you say no to opportunities, you usually get nothing. When you say yes to something and try something you’ve not done before, you get shared experiences with people that you can later call friends!”

Join Leah and Matt as a Bikes Fight Poverty volunteer for 2019! Here are our two biggest remaining needs for next year’s event.

Launch Party: Friday, February 1, 2019
We need help with setting up the table and chairs and decorating the venue to ensure that this is an amazing event honoring our riders. We also need people to check in the riders as they arrive and hand out their SWAG bags. We are looking for 25 volunteers so get your friends to sign up with you!

Launch Morning: Saturday, February 9, 2019
We need lots of help early on the morning of the launch. Yeah, we’re talking early early: 5 to 9am. These needs include loading the gear trailer, checking people in, directing traffic, and event teardown. We need an additional 20 people for this, so again, grab some friends and register!

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