Two public radio journalists have spent more than a week picking their way from the Rio Grande to the Red River by bicycle. KUT’s Hawk Mendenhall and NPR’s John Burnett are riding through rural Texas in the name of charity: specifically a project that equips high-school students in Kenya with books… and bikes.
John took a break from the road for this week's Friday Conversation with KERA’s Rick Holter.
Interview Highlights: John Burnett:
…on how the cycling idea got started: “I’d wanted to ride across Texas for years and it just kept getting put off and put off and then finally we decided we need to do it, it’s on the bucket list. And so then we were going to ride from the Rio Grande to the Red and then it seemed like it would be a better idea to do it for something meaningful. So my friends Turk and Christy Pipkin have this great charity in Austin called the Nobelity Project where they among many things they help outfit and build schools in Kenya. And I covered east Africa and lived in Nairobi, Kenya for NPR in 2012 and I saw up close what he was doing with these schools.”
…on what he saw in Kenya that motivated this journey: “I’d been told that when you go to east Africa you need to bring a piece of it back with you, you can’t just leave it there. And I took that to heart and so Mahiga Hope High School which is one of the public schools that the Nobelity Project has built was just so inspiring to me and my wife and I have adopted one of the high scoring kids there who’s father is a subsistence farmer.”
…on his favorite moment of this trip: “For one thing people have been nice to us. When we tell them that we are not just riding across the state just for a thrill but we are trying to raise money for a good cause and so people give us free food and managers will drive to the hotel and pick us up because we don’t have transportation. But really, I just love rural Texas. My favorite sign I saw was in Groesbeck. It was a beauty sign called Texas Hair: The Bigger the Hair, the Closer to God.”