Belvidere High School Psychology teacher and NJEA member Scott Phillips is joining up with two of his closest friends to cycle from Portland, Ore. to Portland, Maine this summer. Their cross-country ride, a first for Phillips, is aimed at bringing awareness to pancreatic cancer research. While his friends have a family member or friend directly affected by pancreatic cancer, Phillip’s commitment to this ride is dedicated to coworkers and family affected by other types of cancer.

During the multi-week ride, the three friends will stop along the way to perform random acts of kindness, such as helping a single mother mow her lawn or helping a veteran organization plant a flower garden.

“These small acts of kindness are an important way to show how strangers can help strangers, that we can build communities working together and be a positive role model for my students,” Phillips said.

bikePhillips and his friends will be riding in costume. He has chosen Spider Man as his super-hero because a quote from the first movie has inspired him both inside and outside of the classroom: “With great power comes great responsibility.”

Phillips loves teaching, and recognizes his responsibility to not just teach his students only the subject matter in his classes, but also help students understand their relationship to their communities and the differences they can make by getting involved. It is a responsibility he does not take lightly.

No stranger to pushing his own limits, Phillips has completed several marathons and more than twenty obstacle course races, like the Tough Mudder.  It was during a half Iron Man that he came to appreciate the challenge of cycling.

“I am very much looking forward to this ride, because I want to see what my limits are out on the open road with no additional support aside from my buddies,” Phillips said. One thing is clear to Phillips, “I am definitely up for the challenge.”

Ultimately, Phillips will view this cross-country ride a success if he can help students and colleagues recognize that anything is possible. He believes that we should not set limitations for ourselves, or expect any less from others. Phillips explains that we are all more alike than we are different and if we can look past those things that we often throw in as obstacles, we really can make a difference in helping others.

To follow Phillips and his friends on their summer ride, visit www.bikingportlandtoportland.com or on Instagram at @portland_to_portland.

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