Kaia has been a Habitat homeowner for twenty-five years. This year, for the first time ever, she rode in the Habitat 500 – a bike-ride-slash-fundraiser that combined her passion for cycling with her commitment to Twin Cities Habitat. (Our first story covering Kaia's history with Habitat and reason for participating in the Habitat 500 can be found here).
Kaia managed to nearly quadruple her fundraising goal for Twin Cities Habitat – bringing in $4400 – and she peddled 500 miles across North Minnesota.
As a first-time rider, Kaia was slightly apprehensive. She didn’t know anyone else riding in the Hab 500. Very quickly, though, she was put at ease by the enthusiasm and friendliness of everyone involved. “I was so impressed by everyone’s devotion,” Kaia said. “So many bikers signed up from a whole spectrum of skill levels. Everyone, regardless of skill, shared a passion for what we were doing.”
What exactly was it they were doing? The riders in the Habitat 500 covered 500 miles on bicycle in the course of seven days. Riding through North Minnesota, they made periodic stops, talking to locals and raising awareness about the need for safe and decent affordable housing.
Kaia enjoying a water break with 'Hydroman' and his side-kick 'The Quench' -- a music-playing duo who provided the riders with hydration and good tunes at stops along the way.
One night, while riding on the Mesabi Trail – a trail Kaia described as absolutely gorgeous, full of scenic overlooks and undisturbed woods – Kaia and her group stopped at a local club. While there, they talked to a waitress about the Hab 500 and the Habitat mission. “As it turns out, she was a Habitat homeowner!” Kaia said. “I couldn’t believe it. It made me realize how many people have been reached by Habitat.”
The ride was full of surprises like this. One of the more unexpected and emotional turn of events happened off the trail, on state fairgrounds, where Kaia got to meet the family helped by the Habitat 500.
The homebuyer spoke to the riders. In a speech wrought with emotion, Kaia heard much that resonated with her – the gratitude the homeowner expressed was the same gratitude Kaia has felt living in her Habitat home all these years. “It was very charming. I’ll be honest, I got choked up. Hearing another Habitat homebuyer receive such a warm welcome … I could relate to the excitement and gratitude she was feeling.”
And after 500 miles of biking, Kaia was treated to yet another surprise. She had quadrupled her fundraising goal, bringing in $4400 for Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity. “The support was really wonderful. I was taken aback by everyone’s generosity. I feel confident that when I ride again, I can set my goal much higher,” she said.
Kaia will ride again in the Habitat 500 – she’s sure of that. The next Habitat 500 will take place a year from now, and is sure to be just as enjoyable and fulfilling an experience as last year's ride. Look for more information about next year's Habitat 500 in the coming months.