Alumni Stories

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Sam Skrocke

Sam Skrocke

Class of 1994

On January 28, 2008, Sam Skrocke stood on top of the highest peak on the western hemisphere. This alone could be considered a great accomplishment, climbing the 24,000 foot peak deep in the Andes, but it was his journey to get there that was truly remarkable. Almost a year earlier, in April 2007, Sam started by climbing Denali in the Alaska Range (20,420 ft.). He then started pedaling his bicycle over 16,000 miles south to Tierra Del Fuego, Argentina- going through over a dozen countries, across mountain passes, deserts and jungles, averaging around 90 miles a day- all in an effort to raise consciousness (his own and others') and, most importantly, to raise money to build a school in Nicaragua. The word ambitious doesn't even begin to describe the effort. Astonishing comes a little closer. Epic or heroic just about says it all.
His goal was to raise $20,000, the amount needed to build a school in Nicaragua. He had partnered with Building with Books, an organization that aims to provide safe and functional schoolhouses for children in developing countries, where educational opportunities are sorely lacking due to facilities that are dilapidated, overcrowded, inaccessible, or, in some cases, completely non-existent.
"It brought great satisfaction to have this element along for the ride." Sam e-mailed me from the road. "The chance to do something like [build a school] while doing something that I love feels awesome. My trip, or even the idea of it, has turned a lot of heads and I wanted to use that to improve the lives of the communities that were going to host me along my way." Sam started his own non-profit organization, Biking for a Better World, in preparation for this.
Sam posted a blog, describing the incredible experiences he had traveling two continents by bicycle, unsupported (meaning it’s literally just him and his bike, pack, and a map or two) and his hair raising accents of the tallest peak on each. The journals are an interesting read, telling tales of riding across desert land and dangerous, on seemingly endless roads, through jungle humidity and incessant rain; of camping among bears, fox, wolfs, mosquitoes, cockroaches, beetles, tarantulas, snakes, and packs of wild dogs (both alive and dead); of staying the night in houses of friends and of strangers, or out in public places or in the wilderness under the stars; of smashed bicycle frames and inexpert repairs, worn parts and flat tires; of border crossings and language barriers; of waking up in the morning not knowing what was around the next bend in the road, or where he would end up that night, nothing was certain except where he had been and which direction he was traveling, south.

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