CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- June 1, 2010 -- Jordan Rickard wants to make riding his bicycle 3,000 miles across the United States count for something special.
The ride will let him build a photography portfolio for his senior year in college and give the seasoned athlete the ultimate cross-country challenge. Still, he wanted it to mean something more.
When the worst earthquake in the history of the Americas befell the country of Haiti, leaving scores injured and homeless, Jordan knew he’d found his cause.
Jordan, 23, and his roommate, Travis Brotherton, 22, are riding bicycles from Wilmington, N.C. to San Francisco, Calif., departing Monday, May 17. Along the way, they are soliciting donations for the humanitarian organization, Doctors Without Borders. They’ve chosen to specifically aid work that helps the children of Haiti.
“The kids who are in the Haitian orphanages right now, they are our future,” said Jordan, a cashier at the Sam’s Club in Charlotte and a junior at the University of North Carolina Charlotte.
“The way I look at it is, if I’m making this big of a commitment, why not make it really count,” Jordan said. “Passing up a chance to raise money for kids in Haiti would be like forgetting to put icing on the cake.”
Leading by example
Jordan and Travis started the 3788-mile trip May 17. They are taking the TransAmerica Bicycle Trail to Pueblo, Colo., and then connecting with the Western Express Bicycle Route to San Francisco.
“I expect to see everything,” said Travis, who is carrying out a promise to his father by making the trip. “It’ll be interesting to see America. We’re all Americans, but it’s amazing how we are all so different.”
Jordan told the Sam’s Club general manager Marc White about the bike trip earlier this year.
“I told him, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me’,” Marc said. “A couple of weeks later, he’s full stream forward –- a ball of fire. Before you knew it, everyone in the club knew what he was doing, and everyone was talking about it.”
Marc hired Jordan about a year ago as a part-time cashier at the club, which is across from the UNCC campus.
Marc said Jordan has a special way of rallying his co-workers. Before each shift, he huddles the other front-line cashiers and uses excitement to motivate them.
“He gets them fired up for the shift, and it shows in their performance,” Marc said. “He’s one of those people who makes you smile no matter what mood you are in. His smile just rubs off on you.”
Jordan helps in the Sam’s Club market office by signing up members to upgrade to a Sam’s Club Plus membership. With his perpetual smile, members find it hard to say no.
Marc arranged for the Charlotte Sam’s Club to donate a Michelob Ultra Trek 7000 men’s bicycle to help Jordan and Travis’ cause. Any money the bike brings will be added to about $700 the roommates have raised already.
“It doesn’t surprise me that Jordan is taking on this adventure for such a great cause,” Marc said. “He’s an all around good kid, and we’ve enjoyed helping out.”
Pedals For Haiti
Between pedaling past farmland, forest and high desert, Jordan is taking photographs of people he encounters on the trip. A junior majoring in photography, Jordan earns three hours of independent study credit for the cross country ride.
He’s creating a portfolio of environmental portraits that will illuminate subjects by their lives and surroundings. He’s building off the style of post-war photographer, Robert Frank.
“I want to redefine who were are as Americans and how we’ve changed over the past fifty years,” Jordan said, “How we’ve transformed as a society.”
Jordan and Travis hope to raise $10,000 to help the Haitian children. Seventy-five percent of money they raise goes to Doctors Without Borders, while 25 percent goes to buy their daily food.
The men will fund every other aspect of the trip and plan to camp rather than stay in hotels.
Sam’s Club gave Jordan leave of absence for the trip that is expected to take two months. He appreciates the support of Marc and others at the company.
“Everyone’s supporting me, and saying they’re going to make donations,” Jordan said. “Knowing I don’t have to worry about finding a new job when I get back is a big relief.”
Donations can be made to the men’s website, www.pedalsforhaiti.com.
About Sam’s Club
Sam’s Club is a division of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., (NYSE:WMT). The first Sam’s Club opened its doors in Midwest City, Okla., in 1983. Today, Sam’s Club serves more than 47 million U.S. members with locations nationwide, as well as in Brazil, China, Mexico and Puerto Rico. Sam’s Club saves its members on average 30.4 percent over grocery and specialty retailers by offering superior values on quality merchandise and services for home or work. Saving is made simple at Sam’s Club. Visit samsclub.com for more information.