Bicycling duo promoting alternatives to abortion

Bicycling duo promoting alternatives to abortion

CHAMPAIGN – University of Illinois students Mike Schaefer and Jimmy Becker are spending their spring break bicycling more than 600 miles for a cause.

Schaefer, 20, from Freeburg, and Becker, 21, from Booneville, Iowa, are crossing the state on their bikes as part of "Biking for Babies," a fundraiser for Living Alternatives and Students for Life of Illinois.

"Last summer I did a 100-mile bike ride for the first time and thought it was pretty fun," Schaefer said. "I suggested to Jimmy it would be fund to do this for a whole week. Jimmy had the idea of doing this for the pro-life cause."

"We wanted to do something to raise money and awareness to help further the cause of protecting the dignity of mothers and their unborn children," Becker said.

Living Alternatives is a Champaign agency that offers pregnancy tests, ultrasound services, adoption programs and parenting education.

Students for Life is a state organization for college students that emphasizes family planning and alternatives to abortion, according to organization Executive Director John Paul Deddens.

Schaefer and Becker pulled into Champaign-Urbana on Monday afternoon following the second leg of their trek across the state.

After leaving Carbondale on Saturday morning and traveling to St. Louis and Springfield, the duo spent Sunday night in Teutopolis. Together they rode for 97 miles on Monday, including a lunch stop at the Eastern Illinois University campus in Charleston.

Schaefer said their journey has been already full of adventures.

"I had a flat tire in Effingham County," Schaefer said. "And my bike crashed between Carbondale and Freeburg."

"We had some big dogs chase after us near Tolono," Becker said. "All we could do was yell at them to stay away from us."

While the bikers have had good weather so far on their journey, they said it was challenging dealing with 20 mph winds on Monday afternoon.

"We do like it when the wind is at our backs," Schaefer said.

Deddens has been following the two cyclists in a vehicle to provide support along the way.

"I guess you could say I'm their pit crew," he said.

As spring break continues, Schaefer and Becker plan to pedal on to Bloomington-Normal, Peoria and DeKalb before finishing their journey in Chicago on Friday.

Supporters have been pledging money to support the young men's efforts. Some people pledged money per mile, while others contributed a set amount of cash.

Schaefer said they had raised $7,000 through Monday and hope to raise $20,000 by the time their journey ends at Lake Michigan.

People interested in following the bikers' journey can log onto www.bikingforbabies.com. The site provides updates on the trip and information on how to contribute to the charities.

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