SPU Alumni Combine Reunion Fun With Service on World Relief’s 400-Mile SEA TRI KAN Bicycle Fundraiser
What stretches more than 400 miles, spans five days, has raised more than $400,000 for refugee families since 2015, and sometimes includes impromptu SPU reunions?
World Relief’s annual SEA TRI KAN bicycle trip across Washington.
First held in 2015, the non-competitive fundraising bicycle tour pushes off from Kent, travels next to Tri-Cities, and then pedals across Eastern Washington’s vast Palouse region on the way to a Spokane finish. The locations are the three cities in which World Relief assists refugees through resettlement assistance, such as learning English, job readiness, and so forth.
“SEA TRI KAN is such a great environment for us to reflect together on the journey of refugees and other vulnerable immigrants,” said World Relief’s outreach specialist Mckenzie Campbell ’12. “It’s really neat to ride along the Columbia River into Tri-Cities or through downtown Spokane and reflect on what it’s like to start over somewhere new.”
“SPU values changing the world in a transformational way. STK is saying that we believe immigrants and refugees make our communities better and that we see and value them.” — Mckenzie Campbell
Since the first STK rolled into Spokane with 11 riders and a scrappy team of volunteers, Seattle Pacific University students and alumni have taken part in one way or another. For years, SPU students have volunteered, interned, and worked at World Relief, said Campbell. “Having SPU students and alumni participate in STK was a natural extension of all this,” she explained. “We’ve had SPU students and/or alums on every ride. They’ve always been incredibly helpful and valuable members of the team.”
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the world now has 65 million forcibly displaced refugees. Only about 1 percent of them will have an opportunity to start over in a new country — and will require help in their first all-important months. That’s where World Relief comes in. In 2017, the nonprofit helped resettle 921 refugees and asylum seekers from 25 countries, including Iraq, China, Gambia, and Afghanistan. The money raised by STK participants directly helps those families gain independence during their first months in Washington.
But that’s not all the STK does. Beginning with months of training, STK participants become a community. With the abundant SPU connections, the ride can also become an impromptu reunion.
In June 2016, three members of SPU’s student cycling club — Garrett Berkey ‘17, Barrett Estep ‘17, and Kelsey Lucido ‘17 — participated. In June 2018, Campbell asked her one-time SPU peer advisor, Catherine “Cat” Gipe-Stewart ’10, to help out. Now the communications manager for Domex Superfresh Growers in Yakima, Gipe-Stewart brought fresh local apples and cherries for one of the cyclists’ rest stops. “It was a fun little SPU reunion at the dinosaur park in Granger, Washington,” said Campbell.
Why have SPU community members been so drawn to this event? “SPU values changing the world in a transformational way,” explained Campbell. “STK is saying that we believe immigrants and refugees make our communities better and that we see and value them.”
SEA TRI KAN 2019
- SEA TRI KAN 2019 takes place June 19–23, and registration opens soon. This year’s ride will be capped at 55 riders.
- A registration fee, which in the past ranged from $350 to $400, covers a rider’s expenses, including food, lodging, transportation, spare parts, and an official STK jersey. (Riders often buy one or two more to minimize the stink factor, given the ride’s length.)
- Riders solicit their own supporters to donate for their entire trip or miles ridden.
- With participants from a range of skill levels and experience, World Relief provides a suggested training plan that starts in the late winter.