On May 31, Dick Marklein dipped the wheels of his bicycle into the Pacific Ocean and began the 3,872 mile, 52 day journey across the nation’s heartland to New Hampshire. All money raised will be donated to Cristo Rey Atlanta Jesuit High School.

Dick Marklein first began long distance cycling 15 years ago when running became less enjoyable for him. After watching The Bucket List a few years ago, Marklein began a list of items he wanted to accomplish, and biking across the United States was one of them.

But why now? Why, at 59, is Marklein gearing up for his first cross country ride?

“Life is short,” Marklein said. “We don’t know what the future holds, and our bodies don’t get any younger.” After retiring in 2013, Marklein committed to the ride in late 2014 and has spent the first five months of 2015 cycling five to six days a week, totaling 4500 miles.

The reason Marklein chose Cristo Rey Atlanta is two-fold. Firstly, the Knights of Columbus, of which Marklein is a member, spent many hours volunteering when the school was first opened in Midtown Atlanta in July 2014. Cristo Rey Atlanta was formed upon the idea that students from low-income families should be afforded a rigorous, college prep education that ultimately leads to college. One of 28 Cristo Rey schools, Cristo Rey Atlanta is unique because of their required Corporate Work Study Program, which places students into corporate jobs at premier companies for five full days each month, as well as the 100 percent college acceptance rate.

Secondly, Marklein saw a bit of himself in these students. He was raised on a dairy farm and funded his undergraduate and graduate education himself, receiving his degrees in engineering, one of the most popular STEM fields. To him, Cristo Rey Atlanta espouses his personal values, and he wanted to personally support the efforts.

“This is a special opportunity for me to give back, and it is my privilege to ride in honor of these remarkable young people,” Marklein said. Money raised will be used as scholarships for students who have shown an aptitude and desire to study STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) disciplines.

Marklein’s ride will take him from California through America’s heartland and through the northeast. Follow his journey through his GoFundMe page, www.gofundme.com/CyclingForSTEM.

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