“You can do so much more than you think you’re capable of.”
For Rob Mulder, the journey didn’t begin with the push of a pedal.
It began with a sinking gut feeling.
Summer approached before Rob’s last year in college, and the nursing student felt something settling in that he didn’t want: complacency.
Rob lay awake night after night, until he realized something: his life then lacked real challenge. Classes were going well, and his future seemed set.
He just wanted a goal: a change, a challenge — something that felt nearly unachievable.
“I wanted to feel more alive,” Rob said — “to live my life more fully. And I wanted to help others live their lives more fully, too.”
Looking back today, he’s so happy he did.
With a team of 12 new friends, Rob biked 3,300 miles across America and helped raise $20,000 — the biggest contribution in a campaign that raised nearly $60,000.
The money went to a campaign called Just+Hope, and their efforts helped projects across five different countries.
• In Burma, projects rescue young girls forced into prostitution and help prevent young males from becoming child soldiers.
• In Thailand, projects offer educational and social opportunities for the poor in the rural mountains to the north.
• In India, work reaches out to widows and the most impoverished of populations.
• In China, a project helps prostitutes find better ways to make a living.
• In Indonesia, projects teach people about “Get in the Van” schemes, ploys in which men promise people in impoverished areas a chance to work in the city but really are using vans to traffic unsuspecting people into the sex trade.
At stops on their biking trip, the riders spoke in churches across the nation, speaking about their mission and collecting donations to help.
They slept in houses, in churches, on wrestling mats in high school gyms.
13 states — Washington, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and finally New York.
Yet his mission didn’t come as much of a surprise to SVSU’s nursing faculty.
According to them, it’s part of his character to go out of his way for others — in the classroom and the clinical setting.
“He’s very outgoing and a good student, and he relates very easily to patients and their families,” says Lori House-Hewitt, assistant professor of nursing. “He easily gains their trust, and he’s easy to get to know — all things that make a great nurse on top of a great person.”
And 44 days after departing from Seattle, Rob rolled into the streets of New York City. He joined hands with his teammates, and together they dashed for the water.
They’d crossed a continent together, bridging two oceans through the effort of their own legs.
What’s the lesson?
It’s simple, Rob said. “You can do so much more than you think you’re capable of.”