If you catch Paul Shol '09 commuting to work, chances are you won't see him in a car.
The Concordia graduate and Fargo North math teacher likes to use two wheels instead of four. Shol uses his bike as transportation, a passion that was inspired by a trip to Norway. There he quickly noticed that the roads in Oslo were packed with bikes and not cars, and he soon decided to implement a similar lifestyle into his own routine.
Now Shol is not just biking to work. He plans to bike 4,500 miles across the country from Oregon to Maine and raise money for the Legacy Children’s Foundation, Fargo, along the way.
"I've always wanted to bike cross-country," he says. "So, I just sort of put one thing and another together and thought, ‘I know I can use this bike ride for something more than just a bike ride for myself.’”
The Legacy Children's Foundation is dedicated to assisting local teens succeed in school and ultimately achieve a high school diploma. The organization helps provide their students with after school support. Local college students mentor the Legacy students to help them reach their goals and gain confidence. Through the organization, Legacy students are provided opportunities to travel, visit colleges, job shadow and explore interests. The students also complete a minimum of one hour of community service each week.
Shol volunteers at the foundation where he oversees and advises the academic coaches.
"I love how their program works," he says. "It's not all about academics. It's certainly the first thing they work on, but there is more to it than that. The program fosters character, good decision-making, responsibility, leadership, compassion for others, and well-roundedness. It makes such a big difference for these kids."
Now Shol wants to do more. He will leave for his adventure July 5 and bike across the northern states until mid-August. He hopes to average about 100 miles per day. He is also planning to stop in different towns along the way for some speaking engagements. He wants to tell people about Legacy's impact on the youth of Fargo-Moorhead and his own faith journey.
He also hopes to show people that biking can be more than a hobby – it can be a way of transportation.
"I'm just really excited to see what impact this makes," he says. "That's the goal of this. It's not about me and what I'm going to get out of this. It's about kids, education, sharing faith, community, and having a positive impact on others."
It's about kids, education, sharing faith, community, and having a positive impact on others. – Paul Shol
Shol says he believes his time at Concordia inspired his desire to serve. Attending Concordia introduced more good people into his life – people who he learned from and had an influence on him.
"You learn from them that service is important," he says.
To get day-by-day updates on Shol's bike trip and more information, visit his Facebook page.
For more information on the Legacy Children’s Foundation, visit www.legacychildrensfoundation.com
Ali Froslie '18 is an English major at Concordia.