Originally published in Enjoy magazine, June 2011
There’s a familiar archetype- the person who opens their atlas or spins their globe and plants their finger, declaring site unseen that this will be their destination, come what may. You might, in the doldrums of daily life, convince yourself that such fabled wanderers are just a myth, but take heart: they’re out there, and they’re changing the world.
Kevin Citta is going to journey to a city he’s never seen because, as he puts it, “I keep hearing wonderful things about [it].” It’s on the other side of the continent, and he’s going by bicycle.
Citta, 31, will cycle over the course of three months and 4,000 miles, but he’s no mere vagabond: Citta’s a philanthropist. “Biking For Wishes is to raise funds and awareness for the Make-A-Wish Foundation,” he explains. “I’ll be riding my bicycle solo from Weed to Asheville, North Carolina beginning on June 1st. Along the way I’ll be speaking with people and the press about Make-A-Wish as well as accepting donations for them.”
Citta grew up in Wisconsin where his grandfather repaired and sold bikes out of his yard. Once he got out of Grandpa’s yard, there was no turning back. “I’ve biked all over Wisconsin,” Citta says. “I’ve also biked through the Black Hills of South Dakota and […] Smoky Mountain National Park. In 2009 I rode from Sheboygan, Wisconsin to Crescent City, California- Lake Michigan to the redwoods! That trip was called Quest West and I raised $2,100 through fundraising efforts.”
Ask how he came to call Weed home and you start to notice a theme: he heard nice things about it and “decided to take a chance” after reading an article about the Mt. Shasta Brewing Company. Citta has worked for the brewery since moving to California 2009. The hometown brewer is a big part of his endeavor; every first Thursday through September the Weed Arts Council will be holding “Pickin’ For Wishes” at the brewery to help benefit Biking For Wishes and Make-A-Wish. Fans of beer, music and wishing are encouraged to attend.
Biking for Wishes has a simple formula: Citta loves to travel and cycle and wanted to help others. It was just a matter of choosing which direction to focus his efforts. “I thought about organizations that needed help, whether it be for the Earth, animals or people,” he explains. Eventually, he decided: “the youth […] are the future. Many of the children benefited by Make-A-Wish don’t get the opportunity to do things like ride a bicycle across the country. I love what Make-A-Wish does to bring joy to not only the kids but their families during very tough, stressful times.”
Naturally, an explorer like Citta doesn’t subscribe to the ‘straight course from A to B’ system of navigation. For him, the only way from northern California to North Carolina is through the Grand Canyon. “I’ll pass through Lassen, Lake Tahoe, Yosemite, Sequoia and other amazing places. From Death Valley I’ll head to Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon, and across northern Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, and into North Carolina,” Citta explains. “It’s not a direct route but includes places I’d like to visit and explore.” Burley Trailers, the Weed Arts Council and Chamber of Commerce, Mt. Shasta Brewing Company, Hop Tech and others are sponsoring his effort. Citta, unsurprisingly, is excited about “the unknown,” and, ever the cyclist, not looking forward to bad weather and head winds. He plans to film the trip and his brother Matt will handle sound and editing at Twisted Arms Studio in Milwaukee.
Citta’s intentions prove that adventure need not be all self-centered thrill seeking. “I thought I should really help others if I’m getting to do what I love,” he says. He hopes people will follow his journey online and that as many who are able will donate to Make-A-Wish. “They can also help by spreading the word and getting more people involved. Every little bit helps!”
Citta may also inspire others to spin their globes for a worthy cause and take up the mantle of the philanthropic adventurer. Myth: busted.
Biking for Wishes