AU chaplain rides over 500 miles to raise money for Kay Spiritual Life Center

Rev. Mark Schaefer hopes to use funds to improve center’s programming

AU chaplain rides over 500 miles to raise money for Kay Spiritual Life Center

Reverend Mark Schaefer at the end of his ride in Stillwater, NY.

In an effort to raise money for the Kay Spiritual Life Center, American University Chaplain Rev. Mark Schaefer completed a 523-mile bike ride that took him across borders and earned him thousands of dollars for the center.

Schaefer spent a total of eight days in August cycling from Albany, New York to Montreal, Quebec. His return trip took him through Vermont and upstate New York. Throughout his journey, Schaefer kept a blog detailing the ups and downs of each day.

“Today was a rough day,” Schaefer wrote on day three of his journey, which included a tire mishap, delayed start, rain, phone battery and navigation issues and a total distance of 107.39 miles traveled.

“There are probably other things I could say, but I’m exhausted and bed--and my nightly advil--beckons,” Schaefer wrote.

Rev. Schaefer, who has participated in long-distance cycling for eight years, said the sport connects him to his faith in a unique way.

“There’s something about being in nature and challenging myself physically that connects me deeper to parts of my faith,” Schaefer told The Eagle.

Donors could choose to make a contribution of any amount they wished, or they could sponsor him per mile or kilometer. He was able to raise just over $4,000 through contributions, falling just over $1,000 short of his goal.

According to Schaefer, the money will be used to “expand relationship and community-building programs and activities” that Kay already takes part in.

One of the programs he hopes to expand is Table Talks, a roundtable discussion that invites members of the AU community together to discuss moral, ethical and political issues. Another program which Schaefer hopes to expand is the fellowship lunches.

“We have beautiful lunches we do for international students and U.S.-born students to get to know each other,” Schaefer said.

Schaefer wants to model Kay after popular campus spots, such as The Bridge Cafe and The Davenport Coffee Lounge, and use the money to transform Kay in to a spot where students can come to relax, eat food and spend time together.

Schaefer worked as the United Methodist chaplain at AU for 14 years before becoming the University Chaplain in the summer of 2016. When he was the United Methodist Chaplain, Schaefer said, he also took part in long-distance rides to raise money.

“I am gratified that I was able to use my ride once again to raise money for a good cause, and this time to raise money for the Kay Spiritual Life Center and the work that means so much to me,” Schaefer said.

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