This summer, College senior Nick Cernek will set the (bicycle) wheels in motion to combat homelessness.
Through his Living Without Walls trip, Cernek and his two friends Carter B. and Simon Skold will bike from Philadelphia to San Francisco over a span of two and a half to three months, living off of $16.50 a day together and camping out in people’s backyards and on the streets when necessary.
Along the way, they will buy meals for the homeless and hungry and share life stories, write music, keep a running blog on their progress and at the end, weave all the stories, music and experiences into a feature-length documentary.
They will make stops in most of the big cities en route, including Pittsburgh, Chicago, Kansas City, Denver, Sacramento and San Francisco.
For Cernek, the trip boils down to “breaking social barriers to love people.” Cernek said that his “mission is to spread God’s love. It’s why I exist, and I want to spread that love to anybody and everybody.” Another motivation for going on this trip is to break free from the 9-to-5, urban lifestyle.
More than 3,500 miles is an extensive distance to travel on bicycle wheel, so the crew plans to travel light. “We’re only taking what we can carry, and I’ll probably pack a couple days’ worth of food, a camera, musical instruments, not a lot of clothing and some homemade soap, which should be fun,” Cernek said.
Wanderlust and travel fantasies aside, an uncertain road realistically lies ahead for Cernek, Carter and Simon. “We’ll be at the mercy of whatever hits us,” Cernek noted, “and we’ll be relying on people’s generosity and friendliness, which isn’t always what we’ll meet.”
Still, Cernek says that he is ready for the unplanned challenges, physical exhaustion and interpersonal conflicts that may arise. “I’m not going to be naïve, but overall I’m just excited for the opportunity to bless people and live for that on a daily basis.”
Many people — especially those at Philadelphia Bikesmith — have shown support for Cernek and his friends’ cause, but the three are still in the fundraising process. Currently, they have raised $1,754 of their $3,000 goal. Cernek plans to spend $1,500 buying food and $750 buying meals for the homeless — 75 meals at $10 each. The remaining $750 will support Project HOME , a Philadelphia-based organization that fights the cycle of homelessness and poverty through housing, education and policy initiatives.
To those who show monetary support, Cernek promises perks and pieces of his journey. A $10 a donation will yield a signed photo of the person the donation helped. Donors who give $60 will get a DVD copy of the final documentary. And for a $1,000 donation, donors can expect get a t-shirt autographed by everyone that Cernek and his friends meet on the road.
Supporters can stay plugged in with the three’s journey through their blog.