USF medical student bicycling coast to coast to help build homes

First-year medical student Grace Tidwell was intrigued when she heard about a program in which she could help raise funds for building affordable housing by riding a bicycle across the country.

Grace Tidwell

Called Bike & Build, the non-profit group raises money for and helps construct affordable housing for low-income families by hosting bike rides each year. Tidwell applied for and was competitively selected to make the 3,588-mile, two-month-plus-long journey, which left from North Carolina May 13.   Along the route, Tidwell and others in her riding group will stop about once a week to help build homes and give presentations to raise awareness about local housing issues.

Proceeds from the trip are donated as grants to affordable housing organizations like Habitat for Humanity and NeighborWorks.

“I wanted a great cause to throw myself into this summer, perhaps my only summer off for a while, and Bike & Build is it,”  said Tidwell, who pledged to raise $4,000 and log at least 500 miles on the bike.

“The issue of affordable housing affects so many Americans. With the down economy and high unemployment, more and more families are finding it increasingly difficult to find an affordable home. Every member of the community can help because it’s an issue that can affect anyone and everyone.”

Although more of a runner, Tidwell feels confident her drive and determination for helping will keep her riding strong … along with hours of training rides.

“I’ve trained five days each week at local parks and trails,” Tidwell said.

“I’m ready to go.”

Tidwell will be blogging about her trek at and donations to her cause can be made online at

Riding with a group of 28 cyclists, she will pedal about 60 miles each day.  Although the planned route ends in San Diego, CA, around July 21, Tidwell will need to bow out earlier in Arizona; classes begin July 18 for her second year of medical school at USF.

Story by Sarah A. Worth, USF Health Office of Communications