In the summer of 2012, my dad, Marshall Siler, completed a 2,000 mile bike ride following the Lewis and Clark Trail and raising money for Asheville City Schools. His dedication to both adventure and helping others inspired me to complete a cross-country bike ride the next summer with a group called Bike and Build, during which we raised money and awareness for affordable housing. Ever since then, my Dad and I talked and schemed and daydreamed about doing a father/daughter ride together, something that took us to beautiful places and raised funds for something we were passionate about.
After my Dad died this past summer, I pretty quickly realized that I wanted to make our dream a reality, as a tribute to our shared love of biking as a means of travel, of seeking out adventures, and of doing something not just for personal gain but to help others experience the life changing benefits of pushing yourself to the limits physically and emotionally. With this ride I want to honor my dad and the connection we made through cycling and process all the complexities of my grief with friends and family.
To bring this to fruition, I will be embarking on a 4,700 mile bike ride from Vancouver to Asheville, NC supported by friends and family (namely my cousin, Walton Siler Jones, who will be joining me for the entire way as the valiant sag driver). Prior to and along the way, I will be raising money to start the Marshall M. Siler Scholarship Endowment Fund through North Carolina Outward Bound School, which will support students from Western North Carolina who qualify on the basis of financial need to attend NCOBS wilderness courses.
My Dad took a semester course with NCOBS when he was 22, and ever since he had referred to it as a pivotal moment in his growth as a young person. It even spurred him to enter the field of outdoor education by getting his Masters of Education soon after completing his course. He then inspired both of my grandparents to take adult courses, and eventually pushed me to take a course when I was in 8th grade. This set me on a path of pursuing many more outdoor oppotunities, and has led me to pursue outdoor education as a career. My dad and I quickly bonded over our love for the outdoors, and the personal growth that came from both of our outdoor education experiences as I grew up. My dad continued to donate regularly to NCOBS, and was always an active proponent of trying to make these experiences more accessible to a wider variety of young people. I believe this is what NCOBS is striving to do more of, and with your help and donations, I hope we can give more Western North Carolina students opportunities like my Dad and I had to grow, build our confidence, and create strong interpersonal connections with others.
I will be working directy with NCOBS to raise money and to start the Marshall M. Siler Fund. This fund will hopefully be an enduring testament to my dad, and his endless commitment to undererved youth, access to the outdoors, and his life's dedication to helping others.
My total fundraising goal is $21,000, though I have lowered it to $20,000 thanks to a private donor. My expenses for gas, campsite costs, and the occasional cheap motel when a shower is greatly needed are projected to be $3,000, which will be deducted from the total donations. The base amount needed to start an endowment fund through NCOBS is $25,000, and $7,000 of that will be donated by the Siler Fund, which was created shortly after my dad's death to house donations in his honor. The intent is to be able to give NCOBS $25,000 or more by the time I'm rolling into Craggy Gardens on the Blue Ridge Parkway, which was my Dad's favorite cycling destination.
Additionally, I will be updating donors along the way as I progress throughout the ride. Please consider donating in any amount in the spirit of my Papa Mitts. Thank you for your time and consideration in helping me make this bike ride a reality!
PS - A huge shoutout and thank you to Sheri Lalamondier at Indigo Designs for her amazing donated logo!
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