SUNY Oneonta’s Jami Haynes Passes 600 Miles on Cross-Country Bike Tour
SUNY Oneonta senior Jami Haynes, her boyfriend Caleb Grippin and sister Jena rode into a small town Monday morning on three bicycles with trailers hooked to the rear.
"Welcome to Indiana!" a woman yelled.
Haynes and crew had just passed mile 660 of a 4,200-mile bike journey to raise awareness about Harvest of Hope, an organization that offers emergency assistance to migrant workers and families.
They set out from Central Bridge on May 28, and the group is expected to complete their trip by the second week of August when they arrive in San Francisco.
They've been riding 60-80 miles per day and then camping and staying with family and friends along the way. They are now two weeks into their cross-country trip, and Haynes said the people they have met along the way have been welcoming and supportive.
“The strangers have been the best part, everyone’s so friendly willing to help us if we’re stopped and looking at the map,” she said. “People will pull up and ask if we need directions and sometimes they’ll even re-route us to better ways.”
Weather has been one of the obstacles the group has had to overcome. When they started the trek, thunderstorms plagued them all the way to Syracuse. A challenge they didn’t expect from the start was equipment issues.
“We had a flat tire on one of the trailer tires, which are super heavy duty,” Haynes said. “That happened right as a storm was blowing in. We ran over a dogtooth or something, and it punctured the tire.”
A hitch on Haynes’ trailer broke off as well, but she said they are learning a lot about how to fix things and that it is all a part of the adventure.
Haynes added that travelling with her boyfriend and sister can be difficult at times, but for the most part they are all enjoying the trip together.
“We have our days and our moments,” she said. “The stressful situations like when we’re trying to figure out where to go and where to stay and where to eat is when we disagree sometimes, but for the most part its been awesome, we’ve been getting along great and have been having a lot of fun together.”
As the trio has traveled west, through New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana, they have been spreading the message of Harvest of Hope.
Haynes became involved with the organization through an education class she took at SUNY Oneonta this past semester taught by Madeline Berry.
Harvest of Hope founder and president Phil Kellerman came and spoke in Berry’s class. The foundation’s efforts inspired Haynes and motivated her to organize her tour, which she calls “Miles for Migrants.”
Before the tour, Haynes and her sister have held bake sales, a spaghetti supper and a raffle to benefit Harvest of Hope efforts.
Kellerman has been calling media outlets a few days ahead of the group's arrival throughout the Midwest to promote their cause. In addition, the group has been talking with the people they meet to spread the word. They have also printed cards to hand out that tell what they are doing and why.
“A woman we met in Ohio took a stack of them and she was going to distribute them because she was so interested in our cause,” said Haynes.