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On the road to bring home a message

Amanda Gladin-Kramer is biking across North Carolina to raise awareness about the massive budget cuts to public education. Photo by Jessie Gladin-Kramer

By Rose Laudicina
Staff Writer
Imagine biking 476 miles across the varied terrain of North Carolina after you have only been cycling for five months, and during that time you were also working full time and enrolled in UNC law school.

Now imagine biking the distance alone.

Amanda Gladin-Kramer, a 2002 Orange County High School grad, is no longer imagining this challenge; she’s made it her reality.

Gladin-Kramer is biking across North Carolina to bring awareness to the massive budget cuts public education has endured across North Carolina: $476 million dollars were cut from the state’s 2011-12 education budget. That number was the inspiration for the number of miles Gladin-Kramer is biking.

She started biking on Sept. 28 in Banner Elk and aims to finish her ride on Oct. 2 in Emerald Isle.

While biking for awareness about education budget cuts, she is also biking to raise money for three nonprofits in the community that invest in public education.

“The ride is really about community investing in education,” Gladin-Kramer said. “I don’t believe that education should be a charity, but this is a way to drive attention to the lack of resources that a lot of great nonprofits will fill.”

Advocates for Children’s Services is a nonprofit dedicated to ending the “school-to-prison pipeline” in North Carolina. ACS offers free legal representation and advice to children, often in high school, from low-income families who have been suspended or are in academic trouble and are being forced out of their schools.

The East Durham Children’s Initiative is a nonprofit that focuses on one community identified as having little to no resources and works with those children from when they are born all the way to college.

The N.C. Partnership for Children is the organization behind Smart Start, which had around 20 percent of its budget slashed. Smart Start focuses on improving early-childhood education and helping parents prepare and support their kids for school.

Gladin-Kramer has set her fundraising goal at $8,529, a number that represents the average amount of spending per student in the state in 2009-10. She plans to split the amount she raises evenly among the three organizations.

“There isn’t a lot of organized fundraising for education or education causes,” Gladin-Kramer said. “Public education is everybody’s future in a way, and we should educate every child regardless of their background.”
While she is a bit nervous about the long ride, instead of having a team of bikers riding with her or a pace car following her, Gladin-Kramer is doing it alone.

“This is a metaphor for a lot of kids going unsupported through the system,” she said of why she chose to bike alone.

Gladin-Kramer will have a phone, a GPS and her daily supplies on her back, stopping for food along the way and making her way to inexpensive hotels to sleep at night.

Throughout the ride, Gladin-Kramer will update her blog and will continue to raise money. You can follow her updates, donate money and learn more about her cause at bike-nc.blogspot.com

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