O’FALLON, Ill. – Dave Roberson was 12 years old when he lost his father. A few years later, his mother died. His bicycle helped navigate him through those difficult times.

“Biking was a very big part of how I stayed connected with my friends,” Roberson said.

He said that cycling has been a great stress reliever.

Years later, cycling helped Roberson and his neighbors connect during COVID-19 lockdowns. The connection led Roberson, his neighbor Jesse Rochman and their spouses to launch Roads To Giving.

The charity aims to raise money, so bicycles can be purchased for kids. The initial goal is to raise enough money for 100 kids to receive a bike. The hope is that the number will steadily grow.

Roberson and Rochman will spend 40 days pedaling across the country to raise money. They will be traveling approximately 3,000 miles and taking a few periodic days off to rest. The duo will leave San Diego, California on Sunday, March 12, and end their journey in St. Augustine, Florida in May.

The two neighbors hope corporate sponsors and individual donors will allow the charity to provide enough funds to eventually purchase thousands of bikes for kids.

“Studies have shown that regular cycling improves mood, increases brain function, and reduces the risk of bad behavior,” Rochman said.

Erin Rochman is one of the charity’s founders. She said biking improves the emotional, physical, and mental well-being of children.

“We want to make sure that every kid has that opportunity,” Erin said.