Patrick Henry College
As PHC Chancellor Michael Farris pedaled his carbon fiber road bike through the beautiful hills of Garrett County, VA, recently, his mind drifted to PHC’s championship moot court program, his thorough enjoyment of bike riding, and the challenges of fundraising for the College’s many student activities. A longtime cycling enthusiast, his thoughts this particular afternoon led him to a novel idea: embarking on a solo cycling fundraiser to generate donations for those hard-to-fund activities.
On September 16 – the day before Constitution Day – Farris will ride his bike 110 miles to raise money for a number of student activities at PHC, including Debate, Model UN, Moot Court, Mock Trial, Athletics, and Eden Troupe. He’s calling it the Chancellor’s Constitutional Century Ride and he’ll be riding most of the miles around PHC’s large circle drive (the “Farris Wheel”) and along the nearby W&OD trail.
It will be the second time that Farris will log 100 miles in a single ride – his first century was last October off the eastern shore of Maryland.
“The first 90 miles were easy,” he said, “and in the last 10, my feet really started to hurt.”
He says grinding out a demanding century a second time for students is well worth it, as those extracurricular activities round out their personal development and assist them in their future careers. Case in point: PHC students’ robust participation in competitive moot court.
“Three out of 46 students on Harvard’s Law Review are from PHC," he observes. "Moot Court and Forensics helped them get there. If people want to change the country, support this bike ride.”
Farris started the challenge with the idea of 100 miles, and then raised the bar to 104 miles to pass a friend who had a 103-mile-ride under his belt. Finally, after the father of a PHC student pledged to donate $10 for every mile, and $100 for every mile after 100, Farris set the challenge at 110 miles. If anyone pledges a sufficiently large amount for an extra mile, he says he would consider riding 111 miles in support of PHC activities.
“There is always the pressure to cut budgets,” Farris said, “and there is also a high demand for activities.” So in order to help supplement PHC’s $150,000 activities budget for 2014-2015, he decided to launch his own fundraiser and, hopefully, inspire students to do the same.
Dean of Students Sandra Corbitt believes the initiative will both bless and inspire students.
“I am encouraged that he is thinking of ways to help raise money to fund their activities,” she said. “It will be tremendous help to Model UN since they have to raise the funds for this trip and it will also help athletics since we are not at a place where we can sell tickets for the games. His initiative and enthusiasm is a great model for the students and the rest of the PHC community.”
Senior and Student Body President Katie Tipton wholeheartedly concurs. As the 2013 Moot Court National Champion and a Mock Trial participant, she has seen firsthand the need to increase funds for student activities. She noted that PHC’s Model UN team is one of the best in the country, but each year the team is required to raise money to pay for lodging and travel to New York City.
“As our forensics team gets more and more competitive, it takes more money to keep up with that level of competitiveness,” she said. “Eden Troupe also has some big dreams in the future and big dreams take money in order to make it happen.”
She’s confident the challenge will remind students to be grateful for what they are given, knowing that each donation is made possible because of the sacrifice of generous supporters.
“You are inordinately blessing the students when you donate,” she said. “People need to know how much we appreciate this. This money allows us to go out in to the world and be ambassadors for Christ.”
To support PHC’s student activities and donate during the Chancellor’s Constitutional Century Ride, visit 100 Miles for PHC and make your pledge.