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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Alum pedals for wishes

Robert Alcaraz
Robert Alcaraz / Arizona Daily Wildcat Justin Mauser, a UA Grad, finishes an across the country bike ride on the UA Mall on Sunday, Oct. 30, 2011. Mauser rode across the country in 2 months.

Justin Mauser could hear supporters chanting “just-in time” on the UA Mall as he burst through a finish line of black and white streamers and ended his biking tour across the U.S. on Sunday night.

Mauser, who received a degree in biochemistry in May, raised money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Arizona, an organization that tries to grant the wishes of children who have potentially fatal medical conditions, while on his cross-country tour.

“UA I think has meant a lot for him (in) becoming who he is and deciding what he wanted to be for the rest of his life,” said Tess Kalle, a recent graduate from the UA who traveled from Phoenix to see Mauser cross the finish line. “It’s a good meaning for him to finish here where he kind of realized this idea to bike across the country and do it. I think ending his biking here really encompasses all of that.”

During his journey, Mauser biked though 12 states. He began in Maine on Aug. 25 and ended at the Mall by Old Main on Sunday at 6 p.m. He logged in a little more than 3,000 miles of biking and averaged about 70 miles a day.

“I’m just happy to be home,” Mauser said, adding that he missed things such as restrooms and a bed to sleep on while he was biking.
People followed Mauser online though his Make-A-Wish traveling blog where he shared some of the experiences on the road along with a GPS map of his progress.

“The nature of people on the road and their kindness to touring cyclists was really surprising and something that I didn’t expect.” Mauser said. “I didn’t expect to have people take me into their homes after just meeting me at a restaurant. That happened to me several times.”

On his blog, followers could donate money to the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Arizona. By the end of his ride, Mauser raised $4,499 on donations alone, surpassing his original goal of $4,000.

Jimmy MacKenzie, a senior studying physiology and business, kept in touch with Mauser during his trip and said it was exciting following him online and with some phone calls over the last few months.

“It’s pretty cool. I have been talking to him on the phone and he has been giving me updates about where he is at and what he has been doing,” MacKenzie said when setting up the finish line for his friend created with black and white streamers and balloons. “He actually made incredibly good time. He’s way early, about two weeks (earlier) than when we thought he was going to arrive.”

The reason for Mauser’s early arrival was based on his decision to change his route and bike from Colorado to Arizona.

“I wasn’t sure when I was going to end,” Mauser said. “I was supposed to go through Utah through Cedar City but the weather wasn’t going to hold up and I didn’t want to try and pass in the winter.”

For now, Mauser will be resettling back in Tucson and is interested in going to medical school, applying to the UA and other colleges. He hopes his experience will help people realize their own goals.

“Live for the day and do what you want to do,” Mauser said. “If you have any kind of ambition to do something I think you should go after it.”

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