Paul Sliffe could be described as a free-spirited individual.
Yet that characterization of the 24 year-old Weatherford College student just doesn’t meld with the focus, passion and determination he has for helping others.
Sliffe is a self-proclaimed bicycle riding enthusiast, and he has the street cred - literally - to prove it.
Just two years ago, before moving to Weatherford, he was living in California.
“On the West Coast, there are tons of public transportation options,” Sliffe said. “I had my bike, though, and one day while I was riding I thought, why not ride across the United States?”
He said the inspiration came to him, however, in the middle of July when the temperatures hovered in the 100s, even at night. So he began his journey a little east of the Golden State - in Salt Lake City, Utah.
The rest was history as the intrepid, peppy peddler took a northern approach, riding through the mountains and even into Canada, before arriving in New York months later.
When he returned home, Sliffe founded a non-profit organization - Chain Adventures. The cycle and adventure group became dedicated to using the idea of adventure to both better themselves and the lives of others.
In that same vein, Sliffe is doing it again. Only this time, two other team members will join him on a ride from Salt Lake City to Ketchakan, Alaska - about 2,200 miles.
Like before, Sliffe and his teammates will be camping and "backpacking" the entire way. They will also be keeping a public blog on their website which will provide an opportunity for people to follow them on their journey and share in the adventure.
The trip has a goal this time, though, to raise $25,000 for a non-profit dear to Sliffe - Bicycles For Humanity.
“I think that it is just incredible that I live in a country that is so abundant, and that I am allowed to seek greater things than the basics of food, water and shelter,” Sliffe said. “Many people in foreign countries though struggle to obtain these basic essentials.
“We are going to raise the $25,000 and help provide mobility to people in third world countries. Although it may seem primitive, the mobility which a bicycle provides can increase a person's quality of life exponentially. All of a sudden, a person might have several extra hours to enjoy their lives in a way that was never before possible...how amazing."
So Sliffe is issuing a challenge - a “$5 challenge” to 5,000 people willing to donate just $5.
“We know that more than likely we won’t be running into 5,000 [people] on the trip, so we would really like to kick off the fundraising drive locally,” he said.
The funds raised will be earmarked to help the people of Karamoja, Africa in their struggle for access, due to mobility or lack thereof.
“A bicycle allows people to travel greater distances in a shorter length of time,” Sliffe said. “People can carry water and medications back to their village in half of the time of walking.”
He said students are able to get to school faster while parents can transport more items to market to sell.
“I can’t tell you how many people, on my first bicycle trip across the country, gave money, food and a place to stay,” Sliffe said. “When people see us riding all those miles, sleeping along the roadside, they feel inspired to do all that they can to help us in our journey.”
He said he has never felt more alive, than those times he was “living on the road.”
“I honestly thought that cross-country cycling was something that I was just going to do once and get out of my system,” Sliffe said. “Yet, since I completed that first tour, I haven't been able to stop thinking about getting out and doing it all over again. The experience is unforgettable; it literally has me coming back for more."
He said his first priority, however, is getting his education, and taking care of his wife and soon-to-be child.
“I have been lucky enough to have found an incredible women that supports me 100 percent in my adventures,” he added. “Choosing to live a life of simplicity, without seeking out the most expensive luxuries, allows me to be able to take out months of my life and see the world from my bicycle."
Chain Adventures cycle team will be doing several cycle tours over the course of the next few months, in order to bring awareness to their cause. They will be cycling over 1,500 miles in pre-event tours.
The three-man team plans to depart on June 28 from Salt Lake City.
To make a contribution, visit www. chainadventures.com.
The team is actively seeking sponsorships to help offset expenses and to help make their campaign a national one.
Lance Winter, 817-594-9902, Ext. 102