Jesse Mullet can’t back away from a challenge. The nuCamp RV chief operating officer ran his first half marathon in 2012. The following year, he committed to the full Columbus Marathon. To motivate himself, he raised money for Pure Gift of God, a Sugarcreek non-profit that helps families overcome the financial barriers to adoption.
Friends challenged Jesse to qualify for the Boston Marathon, which meant completing the Columbus Marathon in three hours and five minutes or less. If he qualified for Boston, they would donate $5,500 to Pure Gift of God. A donor upped the ante and matched the $5,500 donation bringing the total to $11,000. Jesse accepted the challenge and succeeded. For him, the mission went beyond physical demands.
“The fundraising component became a real motivator to me,” he said. “It gave me a higher purpose to train.”
Since his first half marathon, Jesse has completed several endurance events in support of Pure Gift of God. But his greatest challenge was still before him – riding a bike cross country in 30 days.
“It was by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” he said. “The mental and physical demands were intense and unrelenting. Nothing prepared me for something like this. It became a real challenge to climb onto my bike each day.”
Jesse prepared by riding daily, eventually expanding his training rides to 52 miles. He said that as a child he learned the value of hard work, waking each day at 4:30 am to feed the family’s 500 calves. For this trip, he would need to average 115 miles per day.
Jesse set out on his cross-country trip on May 1, beginning on the West Coast with two goals: complete the 3,400-mile ride in 30 days; and to raise awareness and money for Pure Gift of God. A nuCamp RV Cirrus 920 truck camper served as a support vehicle carrying supplies, tools and food. Mullet’s wife and two young sons rode with him in separate vehicle.
“The first day was awesome,” he said. “My adrenaline was flowing. I felt so lucky to have my dad as my riding partner for the first few days. On the third day, both of my tires popped at the same time, and I only had one spare. I became angry, but I eventually realized that this is going to happen, and I needed to see the positive.”
Jesse’s 84-year-old grandfather, who was riding in the support vehicle, was able to help fix the bike. Jesse shifted his perspective and began to realize how fortunate he was to have both his father and grandfather on parts of the trip with him.
“One of the most important lessons I learned was to enjoy the moment or win the day,” he said. “I believe that taking one day at a time helped reshape my perspective during my ride.”
Over the course of 30 days, Jesse faced greater challenges, both physically and mentally. “Head winds were nearly a daily battle. One four-day stretch I was fighting non-stop wind. It was exhausting. I felt defeated,” Mullet said. “At that point, I realized I needed to just slow down and enjoy the journey. It gave me greater perspective about my life as a whole.”
Jesse raised more than $100,000 during his ride. All of the funds, which were donated to Pure Gift of God, will provide grants to adoptive families. One of the largest barriers to adoption is cost, which can range from $20,000 to $50,000, according to the organization.
Looking back, Jesse said he’s glad that he accepted the challenge of a lifetime. “This whole experience has taught me patience and the power of perspective. These are not lessons I’m leaving on the road. I’m using them every day of my life.”