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Ferris Student Raises Awareness, Funds Through Bike Trip

imageBIG RAPIDS – Many college students this summer will be asking themselves, “What will I do during my summer vacation?” Some will work at internships and jobs, others will go on a vacation, and a few may even find themselves back in the classroom.

Joel Gardner, a sophomore majoring in Political Science in the college of Arts, Sciences and Education at Ferris State University, decided to spend his summer vacation testing his strength and will by biking and camping along the shores of Lake Michigan.

Though many students enjoy biking during the warm months of summer, Gardner is going the extra mile: his mission is focused on philanthropy.

Gardner has set up Web site where supporters can make a donation to the International Justice Mission during his biking trip. The International Justice Mission is a human rights organization that intervenes in areas with defective systems of justice where human trafficking and sexual slavery are allowed to persist.

“I want to raise awareness for a huge problem. Not many people are aware of what goes on and even less people do things to solve it,” Gardner said. “I want to get people thinking about these types of issues in the world so they will want to get involved.”

Gardner hopes to raise at least $500 in donations from this biking trip. The money raised on the Web site goes directly to the International Justice Mission, where it will be used to pay for staff, legal fees, social workers, counselors, rehabilitation and community development.

“The biking trip was a spur of the moment thing that I wanted to do, but it turned out to be a perfect opportunity to raise money for a charitable organization, as well,” he said.

Gardner left Big Rapids on May 15 to begin a full-circuit loop around Lake Michigan. His 17 day-long biking trip will take him through Muskegon; St. Joseph; Chicago, Ill.; Milwaukee, Appleton and Green Bay, Wisc.; Escanaba; Mackinaw City and back to Big Rapids.

A small tent and a sleeping bag will accompany him on his trip, but he will stay with friends and relatives along the way when possible. He will also bring a laptop to check e-mails and communicate with friends and family.

Gardener extends the offer for anyone who sees him, to ride their bike alongside of him and keep him company during his personal mission.