When it comes to giving back to charity, we all strive to find bigger and better ways of making a difference. Keller Williams mega agent Karen Bartlett has found a way to give back so big that it literally stretches across the entire country.
On Sept. 22, Bartlett left Sacramento, Calif., where she works at the Sacramento-Fair Oaks market center, to travel from sea to shining sea all aboard her bicycle. The two-and-a-half month ride will end in Jacksonville, Fla., in early December, when, if all goes according to plan, Bartlett will have met her goal of raising $250,000 for two of her favorite charities, KW Cares and Operation Homefront.
"About eight years ago, I completed the team-in-training bike ride and just thought, 'Wouldn't it be cool to ride across the U.S.?'" Bartlett says. "And I just kept thinking about it. When I joined up with Keller Williams, I realized I could do the ride for charity as well, and that's when it started to take form and become a reality."
She chose KW Cares because it was her original inspiration for embarking on the ride and also to support her company. As a veteran, she chose Operation Homefront, which offers financial, housing and counseling support to veterans, because it is another cause near to her heart.
"When I started thinking about this ride, first it was just something I wanted to do, and then it became something I could do to raise funds and awareness for a couple of non-profits," Bartlett says. "Now I realize from all of the feedback and positive thoughts and remarks that it has been a huge inspiration to so many - something I did not think would occur as a result of the ride."
Along the way, Bartlett has been backed by her husband, who she counts as her biggest supporter, as well as her assistant, who she credits with keeping her business together, and others who have given her donations, places to stay and food to eat. Before departing, she reached out to Keller Williams market centers along her route, and several have offered to join her on the ride through their town and also raise money for KW Cares.
Bartlett is covering approximately 60 to 65 miles each day. After leaving Sacramento, she headed down the California coast to San Diego before turning east through Phoenix, Las Cruces, El Paso, San Antonio, Austin, Baton Rouge, Pensacola and Tallahassee before reaching Jacksonville. On days off, she catches up on e-mails, work, laundry and repacking for her upcoming routes while recuperating from the challenges of the biking itself.
"The California coastal hills have been tough," she said. "I am biking at a slower pace than I thought I would." But any challenges have been more than outweighed by the rewards and inspiration she's found in her journey.
"We are all capable of and responsible for making our world better," she said. "When you reach inside yourself to do something big outside yourself, the growth you gain personally is immeasurable."