Athletics | Global Impact

Refugee crisis: Three Seattle college students’ unexpected approach

When you hear about the refugee crisis, it’s easy to feel hopeless.

The United Nations reports more than 21 million refugees worldwide, about half under the age of 18. This past summer, three Seattle Pacific University students found a unique way to make an impact: embarking on a 400-mile bike ride to raise money for refugees.

It’s called SEA-TRI-KAN, and participants cycled from Seattle to the Tri-Cities to Spokane. World Relief, a humanitarian aid organization, will use the funds to help refugees find housing, jobs, and other crucial resources to begin their new lives in the U.S.

Garrett, Kelsey, and Barrett sitting on a park bench

For a long time, we’ve heard stories about the refugee crisis. I kept seeing awful things on the news and wondering, “How can I help?”

When Garrett first introduced me to the SEA-TRI-KAN, the idea of cycling 400 miles across Washington sounded a bit scary. But I knew the difference this ride could make.

The STK gave us a way we could help with one of the largest crises facing our world. To me, that was powerful. We were just three people, but we would actually be able to help in a practical way. We would be making a real difference in the life of a newly-arrived refugee. Through our training, we three individuals quickly formed a community, which then made the bike club community stronger.

During the five days we pedaled across Washington, all the cyclists became good friends. We spent all day and night together, eating, riding, and camping together in cabins, church office buildings, or hotel rooms. Our ages ranged from nineteen to seventy, and I can honestly say that I enjoyed talking with every person I was around.

We all connected and bonded so quickly. We were all experiencing the same ride, and we could share in the triumphs and struggles each person had. We constantly encouraged each other, which I believe is what made the bond stronger. The ride was tiring and difficult at times, but because of the community, we all kept going and enjoyed our journey.

My favorite part of the ride was the sense of community that developed with the other cyclists. None of us would have ever met if we had not embarked on this journey together. The bonds and the community formed on this ride are irreplaceable.

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