Bear Hugs


I’m a huge Alabama football fan. If you know me, you’re probably rolling your eyes right now. But I seriously just love the team, the coach, the history, and all of the “Roll Tide Roll”-ers. So this weekend, I was obviously watching when they met their match verse the LSU Tigers and pulled off an amazing come-back win with what will now be known in Alabama Football History as “The Drive.”

On Sunday, in reading the post-game comments from Coach Saban, I became an even bigger fan. Saban asks for perfection from his team. Even when they’re up by 50 points he is yelling, correcting and coaching. But after pulling off the win, Saban was simply overwhelmed with pride. He told his team “I’ve never been prouder of a bunch of guys” and gave Barret Jones a big bear hug.

Although my road trip concluded almost a month ago, I wanted to give one more post on my adventures and what I’ve come to call, the BT Team.

During the last week of the trip, I visited mostly current chapters – meeting with chapter leaders and being apart of a few events on campus.

At Mercer, the BT Chapter leader, Melina, reminds me so much of our current staff member Maggie Kirkpatrick. While the chapter is still fairly new, Melina understands that everyone can help in some small way. She has reached out to local teachers to get them involved with Sit for Good, to the neighborhood association to see if the chapter could volunteer labor for a donation, and to all of the businesses in Mercer Village asking if they’d be willing to put a tip jar out for access to education. This creativity and urgency in getting everyone behind their cause shows her commitment to Building Tomorrow and to building a school one day in Uganda.

I also visited with students at Wake Forest, North Carolina State, Furman, Davidson and Duke. My favorite part about these visits was getting to meet the other student leaders in the chapters. I am usually in touch with just the president of the chapter so getting to see the full extent of the BT Team and meet other students who were just as passionate and committed to our work. It was crazy to think that I didn’t even know their names before this trip but that we both knew the stories of Paolo and the BT Academy of Kabasegwa.

I also had the opportunity to be a part of UNC’s 3rd Bike to Uganda and to see the event that thousands of students at UNC participate in every year. Their success was amazing, but again I was more excited for the moments when I heard their chapter members describe BT’s work to someone asking about the event, and for the opportunity to meet the exchange students from Copenhagen that want to take Bike to Uganda back to Denmark. In watching the event, I began to see the BT at UNC Team and how they worked together for this cause.

This was personally my 5th Bike to Uganda event.. and last week I had my 6th at Ball State University where students biked all day to entertainment provided by local bands and musicians. I wish I could have also been there for Furman University’s event but the pictures alone of the 7am bikers said quite a bit about the commitment from students there.

Sometimes I feel a little bit like a coach on the phone with chapters – troubleshooting issues and coming up with ways forward. And my plan in meeting with the chapters on my road trip was to encourage the students and provide some hands-on help to the chapter. In reality, the visits became a bear hug. Our students, from Furman to Ball State are Building Tomorrow – they are finding ways to raise funds, dollar by dollar and to tell the world about the need for access to education. They truly are the heart of the BT Team and like Coach Saban, I couldn’t be prouder.


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