“After my playing days, I started getting into running and more recently, competing in triathlons,” the 2000 WMC graduate said. “I’ve never really done a lot of cycling. To consider traveling 1,000 miles in eight days, it seemed a bit daunting.”
But Buursma decided to join the adventure “nearly at the last minute” he said, joining fellow Calvin grads and close friends Joel Van Veen and Dave DeBoer.
DeBoer is also a WMC graduate and was a soccer teammate with Buursma at Calvin.
“I’ve actually never been to the (Upper Peninsula) and I figured what a better way to see the U.P. then by bike,” said Buursma, now a Grand Rapids resident and physical therapist at Shoreline Sport and Spine in Spring Lake. “It took a ton of planning. I’m talking like through February, March and April we hashed out all the details. After that, we got heavy into training. We’d get up every Saturday around 6 a.m. and ride for about 100 miles at a time.”
To make the trip more worthwhile, the three friends decided to turn the adventure into a fundraiser for a good cause. After considering several different organizations, the trio settled on the World Bicycle Relief, a foundation that provides bicycles to people — mostly children — in poverty-stricken areas. By providing bikes to those in need, it creates sustainable transportation and improves their health, education and economic situations. Buursma said the money they raised for WBR would benefit children in Zambia, Africa.
“Instead of them having to walk or run 10 or 15 minutes to school, they’re able to bike. It empowers them to go to school and continue their education,” he said.
“We felt it was a very important cause and it touched on a number of issues we felt were really important,” Buursma added. “It’s been really great the outpouring of support we’ve received. We held a fundraising event at a brewery in Grand Rapids, where we were able to raise over $1,000 in one night, and by the end (of the trip), we figured we ended up raising somewhere between $3,000 and $4,000.”
To read more of this story, see today's print edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.