Student veteran prepares for cross-country bicycle journey


Before she sets off on her bicycle on her two-month trek across the country, Kiersten Downs is embarking on last-minute preparations for her ride which she hopes will raise money and awareness for student veterans across the country.

Downs, president of the USF Student Veterans Association (SVA) and a doctoral student, said her preparations for the trek, which starts in San Francisco on June 1 and will end in Washington, D.C., will include visiting the headquarters of the national SVA chapter as well as spending some time with her family in New York.

“When you do a big tour like this, you can’t prepare for everything…,” Downs said. “For the next couple of weeks I think I am just going to center myself, focus myself, get out on the road to ride as much as I possibly can, and just keep looking over my route.”

Last week, celebrity host Nick Canon sent Downs a message of support for her journey. The message aired on mtvU on a segment dedicated to students.

Downs said she was surprised by Canon’s message, and the gifts for her trek provided by MTV including a Garmin GPS bicycle computer, a camera, and a $1,000 gas card for the support vehicle driven by Down’s mother throughout the journey.

The goal for the journey, Downs said, is to raise $50,000 for student veterans across the country. So far, she said her online campaign has raised approximately $2,000, with other big sponsors in the works.

Once Downs begins her bicycle ride across the country, she said she will update both her Twitter and Facebook pages to show her progress. More information about her ride, as well as her progress once she begins can be found at

—Reporting by Alex Rosenthal