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Duke basketball player stops in Helena on cross-country bike trip to support disabled community

Posted at 6:45 PM, May 31, 2018

HELENA — Every journey starts with a single step.

For Duke basketball walk-on Brennan Besser, that step was onto a bike for a cross-country road trip to raise money and awareness for the intellectually or developmentally disabled (IDD) community, a cause close to the Blue Devil’s heart.

“I have four older sisters and Jacqueline Besser, who is 23, is directly older than I am, has autism and is non-verbal, uses an iPad to communicate and has two full-time caretakers because she has severe disabilities,” said Besser. “So I wanted to utilize my Duke basketball platform to do something good.”

Starting in Seattle, Besser and a small supporting cast have pedaled east, making a few stops along the way to help spread the cause. This week, the Helena YMCA was on the biker’s map, where Besser held a small basketball clinic for a few Capital City hoopers.

“The greatest part about it is just connecting with these individuals because the Walk On America campaign is really a call to action,” continued Besser. “Family and individuals that deal with disabilities and special needs are faced with daily challenges, and this campaign is really a rallying cry for everyone to understand you’re not alone. And the best thing about these clinics is you get to work with these individuals and see them progress in just a matter of minutes on the basketball court. And we’re having fun out here, and to see smiles and to be part of positive energy, I’m so lucky.”

Besser still has a long way to go until he reaches the end of his route in New York, but riding for a cause like this one makes the long days worth it.

“We’re averaging 60 miles a day. It’s physically tiring, but we knew that would be the case. When you mount a national effort you know that you’re going to run into adversity, but the thing that’s so great about it is that I know that I’m not just biking for me, I am biking for a greater cause and for a greater community. So it’s been beautiful,” said Besser with a smile. “We’ve honestly been blessed, riding through the west, riding through Washington, Idaho, Montana. I’ve seen a bunch of scenery that is just stunning, it’s really breathtaking. So, like I said, for a city guy like myself, it’s been a wonderful, wonderful trip.”

It’s not a bad way to spend a summer, especially when you know you can help make a difference.

“We hope that that when we are riding on those last streets in New York that we can look back and say we’ve made a positive impact,” Brennan said. “We’ve raised a lot of money to be redistributed to great organizations and families across the country that need as much help as possible.”

If you want to follow along with Besser and his journey across America or find out more about his cause check out the link here.