Below is a guest post from Erin Owenby, Director of the Building Tomorrow chapter at UNC-Chapel Hill:

When I provide prospective members with information about joining UNC Building Tomorrow, I send them a blurb that describes BT as an organization that “empowers young people in the US to invest their resources, time & talents in providing access to education for the millions of children in sub-Saharan Africa with a desire to learn and no place to do so.” After the 2012 Bike to Uganda the word “empowered” is one of the best ways to describe how I feel.

Just two short years ago I found myself at an interest meeting for this unique organization that had a plan: Get every student on campus excited about biking to Uganda, and they did. I immediately fell in love with the organization, the people and ultimately the cause. Last year when we had wrapped up our second annual Bike to Uganda and listened as the director announced that we had done it, we had raised the funds to start construction on our first school, I had chill bumps all over my body. This is the moment I knew, I wanted to make an impact by taking part in and leading UNC’s third Bike to Uganda.

After months of planning and recruiting it finally arrived. The first day was a chilly 47 degrees with a nonstop drizzle, and sometimes downpour, from morning until night. One biker was overheard referring to our event as “Bike to Antarctica.” If you think this stopped the Carolina Community from biking, you would be wrong. Participants and members alike braved the weather and we were well on our way to Uganda by the end of the day.

The rest of the week proved to be much more appealing with sunny skies and higher temperatures. Campus organizations biked together, singing and dancing groups performed and you could not walk through the central part of campus without someone commenting on “those bikes in the pit.” After 60 hours in the pit, 1,171 bikers, 10 performances and over 800 t-shirts and tank tops sold we were able to proudly boast $11,509 raised for our second BT Academy!

While pulling together an event of this magnitude with only 30 dedicated UNC Building Tomorrow members is remarkable, what is more amazing is that we are able to raise so much money and awareness to continue all the great things Building Tomorrow is doing. Over the last two years I have been able to watch BT grow as a national organization and have truly fallen in love with its people and its promise. I hope that UNC will complete its fundraising goal to begin construction on its second school before my graduation. I am so thankful for this opportunity to be part of something so unique and special and I look forward to continuing my support as Building Tomorrow grows in the years to come.

Erin Owenby
Director, Building Tomorrow Chapter
UNC Chapel Hill

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