Giving Back Through Cycling

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Rebecca Rusch celebrates her continued success with Rebecca’s Private Idaho. Photo credit: Rebecca Rusch

Rebecca Rusch uses wheels to heal

BY SABINA DANA PLASSE

Dedicating her life to being a professional athlete, Rebecca Rusch’s connection to community is foremost, especially as she continues to expand her vision as a humanitarian in her effort to promote cycling as a vehicle to connect to people and mental and physical wellbeing—everywhere.
As a world-class explorer, professional athlete, acclaimed speaker and author, Rusch’s Be Good™ Foundation is one of three organizations, including Rusch Ventures and Rebecca’s Private Idaho, that support Rusch’s life mission for the mind-body connection through endurance, perseverance and resilience. The Be Good Foundation elevates leadership, business, and life based on Rusch’s commitment to wilderness wisdom.
“I launched the Be Good Foundation in my father’s name in 2015 after I rode the Ho Chi Minh Trail through Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia,” says Rusch. “As an ultra-endurance athlete, I embraced this 1,200-mile bike ride to connect with my dad and find the place where he was shot down in 1972. I realized I could do more with my athletic career, world championships, and hall of fame accomplishments because the bike was a healing mechanism I could share with others.”

Rebecca Rusch, riding with friends. Photo credit: Rebecca Rusch

For Rusch, it became clear that the bike had a larger purpose for her, and it inspired her to launch the Be Good Foundation, which is named after how her father would sign his letters home from Vietnam with the words “Be good.”
Rusch’s Ho Chi Minh Trail ride was the subject of her Emmy Award-winning film Blood Road, becoming the first person to bike the 1,800-kilometer Ho Chi Minh Trail. In addition, her bestselling memoir, Rusch to Glory: Adventure, Risk & Triumph on the Path Less Traveled, is centered around the human potential, holistic performance, failure as fuel, and lessons on inner and outer being, which Rusch continues to emulate through all her work.
“It has become my mission to find more healing, connection, and community through bikes,” says Rusch. “People everywhere suffer from mental, physical, and isolation issues, and the bike is a beautiful tool, which can bring people together and move with each other in the outdoors.”
The Be Good Foundation has a local, regional, national, and global reach all centered around bikes bringing people together, which ranges from children and those recovering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and military veterans to paracycling athletes and everyone in between using sports for recovery, healing, and wellness.
With a solid commitment to Idaho, Rusch is dedicated to supporting her local community of the Wood River and Sawtooth valleys and her global humanity efforts. Elevating cycling opportunities to support exploration, self-discovery, and building community for all cycle enthusiasts, the Be Good Foundation awarded 15 scholarships and $65,000 in grants to individuals and organizations at local, national, and global levels in 2023.
A hands-on scholarship program committed to removing financial barriers and providing more cycling opportunities for any individual, including those from underrepresented communities, the Be Good Foundation offers a chance to change one’s life through the benefit of cycling. In addition, a global-reaching, multipurpose grant program offers organizations funding for communities and groups that use bicycles for healing, empowerment, and evolution—using the power of cycling to elevate people and communities for progress—it’s a game-changer for some.
All the beneficiaries who received grants and scholarships are tied to one or all of the Be Good Foundation’s focus to increase inclusivity and accessibility to cycling—building community through a bike.
“Delivering upon the mission of the Be Good Foundation has allowed individuals and organizations to use cycling to bring together and serve their communities while inspiring individuals to live a better life,” said Rusch. “The merits of these individuals and organizations represent an array of people, places and needs, which the Be Good Foundation is proud to honor.”
Grants in 2023 were awarded in Idaho to the Wood River Trails Coalition and the Sawtooth Society in the Wood River and Sawtooth valleys, Valley Adaptive Sports, based in eastern Idaho’s Teton Valley, and Idaho Interscholastic Cycling League.
Across the nation, grants were awarded to NorCal Interscholastic Cycling League in Northern California, Latinas en Bici, based in Rogers, Arkansas, Ride for Racial Justice, a national organization increasing opportunities for BIPOC cyclists, Soldiers on Singletrack, a nationwide active duty service members and League of American Bicyclists.
On a global level, grants were awarded to the Mines Advisory Group, removing unexploded ordnance in Laos, and World Bicycle Relief, providing life-changing bikes to women and doctors in Africa.
The Bikepacking Scholarships, which is part of the Be Good Foundation’s scholarship disbursement funds, were granted to Edyn Tietge, Jen Gadoua, Jackson Long, Luis Orozco-Sanchez, Jeremy Raeszler, Megan LaBeth, and Jaime Baeza. These individuals are a range of students, military veterans, paracyclists, BIPOC and LGTBQ+ cyclists.
Supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion in cycling by donating to the Be Good Foundation scholarship program makes a real difference in the lives of deserving individuals who could not afford to participate in cycling, whether it’s gear, competition, or training. Bikepacking scholarships range from $250 to $2,000 in financial, gear, and mentorship support for any individual to achieve their bikepacking dreams.
To learn more about the Be Good Foundation, visit rebeccarusch.com.