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Pedaling For Pencils: Kennedy Donnelly Bikes Across the Country

While some of us spent our summer vacations relaxing on the beach with friends, others spent their time working, interning, or glued to their televisions watching the Olympics. Either way, we all did our best to make the most of our beloved three-month break from school. However, 17-year-old Kennedy Donnelly took her summer vacation one step further (or more like 3,800 miles further) with her Pedaling for Pencils fundraiser.

Starting in Oregon, Kennedy rode her bike cross-country with the goal of raising $10,000 for Pencils of Promise, a non-profit organization that builds schools and increases education opportunities in developing countries. After riding 50-100 miles a day for 55 days, Kennedy completed her journey in New York on August 15.

For almost two months, Kennedy woke up every morning with a different challenge waiting to be conquered. Whether it was extreme heat, constant rain, or utter exhaustion, Kennedy refused to give up—even when she was sleeping in strangers’ backyards. 

“Every day I had to get on my bike and bike to the next location. It didn’t matter if I was tired or sore, I had to keep going,” she said. “When things got tough, I cried, and then thought about all the kids I am helping and proceeded biking. If it weren’t for my goal of building a school with Pencils of Promise, I honestly don’t know if I would have made it across America. Knowing that I was going to build a school kept me pushing through all the hard times.”

Kennedy’s journey is part of Pencil of Promise’s new Impossible Ones initiative. The campaign mobilizes our generation to tackle our impossible challenges in an effort to help PoP reach its goal of funding and building 100 schools in 2012. Although Kennedy has completed her cross-country challenge, it’s not too late to stand behind her. Donate to her Pedaling for Promise fundraiser, and help Kennedy and Pencils of Promise build a school. 

While she may be tired, have incredibly sore legs, and be in need of a hearty home cooked meal, one thing is for certain: Kennedy’s heroic journey will surely make for one amazing “How I Spent My Summer Vacation” story.

Want to become an Impossible One? Create a fundraiser linked to conquering a challenge, or overcoming a fear. If you can’t think of anything off hand, don’t fret. Dedicate the next milestone in your life to Pencils of Promise. Before you know it, you too can be making a difference in a child’s education. 

Jamie is a recent graduate of the George Washington University where she majored in Political Communication and Journalism.  While in school, she interned at several magazines and online publications, wrote for Her Campus, and contributed to her university's newspaper, The Hatchet. Her work has been syndicated in The Huffington Post, USA Today College, and Reader's Digest. Jamie loves boy bands, anything with a little wit and sarcasm, and of course, diet coke. She is currently pursuing a career in magazine journalism in NYC. You can follow her on Twitter, @jamieblynn 
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