by Geoff Larcom, Published June 10, 2013
YPSILANTI – John Fike has seen how study abroad changes and inspires college students.
"When they come back, the change is remarkable," he says. "They're dedicated to solving the problems of the world. They are very different people. You can see it in the intensity of their focus and maturity of their work."
Yet Fike, a part-time lecturer in Eastern's Political Science Department, understands the main hurdle to such travel - money - and he wants to help by combining his exercise passion of cycling with raising funds for EMU students.
He plans a 450-mile biking trip around Michigan to raise $4,000 to help fund study abroad programs at Eastern, or to help students start their fundraising careers through the EMU Nonprofit Leadership Alliance Program, led by EMU professor Claudia Petrescu.
Fike, who began an intense regimen of cycling about 10 years ago to combat the onset of Type 2 Diabetes, will start in Lansing on Saturday, June 29, and will take about 12 days to complete the journey. The grand, circular trek will take him to Battle Creek, Kalamazoo, South Haven, Grand Haven, Big Rapids, Mt. Pleasant, Bay City and finish at Lexington in the Thumb region.
Fike, 70, teaches in the nonprofit management minor within EMU's Masters of Public Administration program. For several years, he and his wife, Bonita, have included a summer bike outing as part of their vacation.
"This year, we thought it might be fun to expand the route a bit and dedicate this adventure to raise $4,000 to help EMU students," he says.
Fike began his career as a multi-media producer in Chicago and then ran a furniture design company before settling into a long and varied run in fundraising management roles, including running his own company, Philanthropy Solutions LLC, which provides consulting services in fundraising, strategic planning and leadership development.
Of all the posts he has held, Fike says he most relishes teaching at Eastern, where he encounters "outstanding young minds" with an eye on helping other people through non-profit and fundraising work.
He wants to help students on that career path. And through his upcoming trip, he's also reinforcing the contribution good health and a high energy level can make to a successful career.
"We needed a 'gee whiz' mileage for this trip," he says of the 450-mile odyssey. "Not too many 70-somethings can undertake that."
A map of the tour can be found on the trip's Facebook event page and people are invited to follow the trip on a daily basis. Here's the link:
To donate for EMU student study abroad, you can go to the endowed fund at https://www.emich.edu/foundation/give/?fund=02240
Donors interested in helping with nonprofit management training can visit https://www.emich.edu/foundation/give/?fund=02133 This will help the student funders group and other activities of the leadership alliance.
You can also follow Fike's ride on Twitter at: @EMUjohnfike