What would you do?

By Hope Smith

For 88 bucks, you can fill up a keg, secure a decent concert seat or pay a cable bill. But when the organizers of 88Bikes have that much cash at their disposal, they buy a bike for a kid in a developing country.

In 2006, brothers Dan and Jared Austin and Nicolas Arauz set out to collect enough money to give 88 bikes away to children in an orphanage in Cambodia. The final cost of one bike averaged out to about $88, and they started collecting. After just two weeks, they had reached their goal.

They gave bikes to all the children at the Palm Tree Orphanage in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and the crew adopted a meaningful name and had a good reason to give more.

Since that first donation, 88Bikes has become more well-known and has given bikes to children all over the world — children in Uganda, Peru, Vietnam, Nepal, India, Ghana, Mongolia and Tanzania.

Tonight, Dan Austin will visit campus to share his organization’s story.

“It was astounding to me how much change they could bring in such a short amount of time,” Jill Baranowski, Student Activities Board director of engaging issues and event organizer, said. “I wanted to bring them here because their story stuck out to me.”

88Bikes collects donations from people all over the world, then uses all of that money to bring children in impoverished areas much-needed joy and transportation.

But it doesn’t stop there.

All the bikes are given to kids using local means as much as possible. Local men and women help assemble and deliver bikes, schools and orphanages get involved and help with continuing upkeep of the bicycles, and bike shops are often established to teach new bike owners how to care for bikes and use them safely.

“Every semester we take surveys to find out what students want to see on campus, and they tell us they’re interested in non-profits and social change,” Baranowski said. “88Bikes is a non-profit that helps children and adults … it even stimulates local economy.”

According to the 88Bikes website, Dan Austin believes people might find it more rewarding to give money directly to an individual and see results, than to give money to a larger organization without truly understanding where the money goes. With 88Bikes, donations become more personal.

“You can donate as much as you’d like, there are different amounts,” Baranowski said. “Sometimes a bike can mean the world.”

Dan Austin will be speaking at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 6, at the Worsham Theater. Admission is free.