||Kevin Biese is pictured with his bicycle outside Holy Cross Church in Kaukauna. The UW-Madison sophomore will bike more than 800 miles in seven days to raise money for three pro-life projects. The charity ride is known as “Biking for Babies.” (Rick Evans | For The Compass)
KAUKAUNA -- When it comes to athletics and outdoor activities, Kevin Biese of Holy Cross Parish, here, enjoys trying anything and everything. He plays volleyball, tennis, and basketball. His pastimes include biking, hiking, and swimming. Throw in support for a good cause and he is ready to push himself physically like never before in his life.
Biese, who will be a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is biking more than 800 miles in seven days to raise money for three pro-life charities. Along with four other cyclists, he is pedaling from Covington, La., to Champaign, Ill., as a part of Biking for Babies. Funds raised through donations will support a new Women's Care Center in Madison, the Champaign Pregnancy Resource Center and Students for Life of Illinois. The target is $15,000.
Jimmy Becker, co-founder of Biking for Babies, recruited Biese for the ride. They met at the St. Paul University Catholic Center in Madison where Becker, an Iowa native, serves as a FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) missionary.
"He is a triathlete and we were talking about running and biking," said Biese. "I told him that I loved biking, so he asked me to go on a bike trip with him. They didn't have any representation from Wisconsin, where one of the charities is located, so I told him that I could help him out."
Biking for Babies has fielded separate Wisconsin and Illinois teams in the past. This trip features the five cyclists and two support people traveling by van. The team departed Louisiana on June 13.
"The first couple days are 70 or 80 miles, then 110 and 120," said Biese. "The day before the last day is 170 miles. That will be our huge push to get into the state of Illinois. From there, we have a 65-mile day to cap it off."
Mental and physical demands
Biese anticipated the trip to be mentally grueling in addition to the physical demands.
"Just think about how tough it is driving in a car for eight hours," he said. "You are doing work now to cover the same ground. You have the lactic acid and the pain in your muscles. You have to tell your brain to tell your body to get through that."
The cause provides motivation, he added. Biese admits that he doesn't have all the answers, but knows something has to be done in the fight against abortion.
"If it's a human life, there should be no price," he said. "There are smarter people than me out there, but I know there has to be a solution that's better than keeping abortion legal." The Women's Care Center will provide free ultrasounds and free pre-natal care for women with unexpected pregnancies.
Thankful for support
Biese, who is working in maintenance at Holy Cross Church and as a personal volleyball trainer this summer, is thankful for the backing he has received.
"I've gotten a ton of support," he said. "A lot of people have seen me on the street and have given me money. People who haven't been able to donate with money have told me they are praying for me, which is huge. Praying for life needs to happen more often."
Biese points to his father, Ron, a cyclist, and his girlfriend, Nikki Barbara, for their encouragement.
"My dad was jealous. He wanted to do it," said Biese. "My girlfriend pushed me to do it. She was the deciding factor. It's a lot of time away from work and home. She said, 'Think about all the people you will be helping and you get to represent Wisconsin.'"
Growing in faith
The ride also represents how far Biese has grown in his faith. He is a lifelong member of Holy Cross, but struggled with his belief in God during his youth.
"I'm a very logical thinker," he said. "When I was younger, it never seemed like a possibility that God could exist. I was raised in a great family. I was very much an attention seeker. I was one of those kids who always wanted more and could never find it. It wasn't until I found my faith that I was satisfied. Anyone who knew me when I was younger, I was definitely not the same person I am today. God has really said to me, 'Hey, I'm here, so you better start paying attention.'"
Biese added that he was good at faking being Catholic. He would do things for other people, but only for personal gain.
"It surprises people when I talk about my conversion story," he said. "I wasn't a happy kid. I was going through these things and God was there even though I didn't know it. It puts me at peace believing that maybe that's the plan God drew out for me to get to where I am now."
Biese is open to sharing his faith journey. He has spoken at high school retreats and welcomes future opportunities to speak about his experiences from Biking for Babies.
"If I have a God-given gift, it's my ability to stand up in a crowd and start talking," he said.
Future Biking for Babies rides are a possibility, said Biese. His approach to his first one is simple.
"I will keep pedaling until my body won't let me anymore," he said.
To support Biking for Babies or for more information, visit www.bikingforbabies.com