Mike Schaefer has not worked at Gibault Catholic High School in months, and he only worked there for just under two years, but his time at the school made quite an impression on him.
It had such an impact on him that on Nov. 8, Schaefer will bicycle 300 miles in one day to fundraise for the Waterloo school’s general scholarship fund.
“This bicycle ride is simply about making the kind of formation and education supported through the scholarship fund more affordable for more students,” Schaefer said. “I hope that people can see the sacrifice to bicycle 300-plus miles in a day — training, giving up a weekend, website costs, hotel costs, finding a support crew, etc. — and have a certain confidence that what happens at Gibault is real and worth sacrificing a few dollars to support.”
Schaefer taught theology at Gibault from fall 2018 to spring of this year, despite the fact his background is in agriculture.
“It had its own unique set of challenges but, overall, I certainly enjoyed it,” Schaefer said of teaching at Gibault.
Schaefer now works as a production assistant at Heartland Farms, where he worked over the summer in 2019.
“It was a tough decision, but it was something I had been looking for for a long time,” he said of the career change. “It allowed me to stay in the same place. I love the community here.”
Although he plans to bicycle a little over 300 miles in 24 hours, Schaefer does not consider himself an avid cyclist.
He runs regularly, having completed a few marathons and typically finishing a few half marathons each year.
He is also not a total stranger to long-distance cycling, as he started a group called Biking for Babies when he was in college to raise money for pregnancy resource centers by biking approximately 1,000 miles a week.
“That was my introduction to long-distance bicycling for charity,” Schaefer noted.
But the farthest Schaefer has ever ridden in one day is 200 miles, so he has talked to other cyclists and been training to prepare to conquer his goal of riding 300 miles.
Schaefer’s preparation includes running around 60 miles a week, lifting weights twice a week and bicycling 150-200 miles a week.
To ensure his safety on the trip, which will start around 1 a.m. in Southaven, Miss. and end just over 300 miles later in Waterloo, Schaefer will have a support crew that includes Gibault Principal Stephen Kidd, current Gibault theology teacher Susan Mackin and former Ss. Peter & Paul Catholic Church pastor Father Osang Idagbo.
Although the task will prove arduous, Schaefer said it will be worth it because Gibault makes a high-quality, Catholic education available to students from various socio-economic backgrounds, which he said benefits everyone at the school.
“It’s not just those students and families who win, but also those students and wealthier families who could afford Gibault in any case,” Schaefer explained. “In my two years there, I saw students from diverse backgrounds forming friendships and learning to get along even when they disagreed, all on the common ground of a certain moral and academic formation informed and inspired by the gospels. For all the thousands of times this kind of formation has happened for Gibault alumni, it’s been because of the many generous people who have contributed to Gibault’s scholarship fund.”
To find out more about the ride or to donate, visit 300forgibault.org.