A Yavapai College professor has turned a pandemic-inspired routine into a fundraiser for his students.
Daniel Swartz is an American Sign Language Professor at Yavapai College. In mid-May of last year, when stuck at home, he decided to dust-off his mountain bike and go for a ride.
"I just went on a bike ride to just break the boredom," said Swartz. “I thought, ‘Okay that’s good.’ The next day rolled around and I thought ‘Hm I’ll do it again.'"
"I have biked through rain win sleet snow you name it," said Swartz, and every day since he has ridden his bike on an 8-mile route in Yavapai County. Regardless of the weather, and even after being diagnosed with COVID-19, but only exhibited moderate symptoms, Swartz geared up and rode his bike.
Swartz began posting daily ride photos and video updates, as well as streaming Q & A situations on Twitch. About 100 days into riding, Swartz was diagnosed with COVID-19, but decided to ride through the virus. He says he would double mask up and ride when the trail was empty to keep the streak going.
In the fall, friends of Swartz suggested using his now "epic journey" to help others, and he didn't need to look any further than his own work to find people in need of assistance.
"Some of my students were making it very apparent to me that they were having difficulty, financial problems, some had to actually drop out of the class because of financial problems," said Swartz, adding that one of his students even became homeless due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Swartz partnered with the I Am YC Foundation, an emergency financial supports financial for Yavapai College Students. He's using his daily rides to bring awareness to the struggles of students to help raise money for the foundation.
"It helped me with a couple of things that I needed to take care of whether it be food or whatever it was at that time," said Yavapai College Student Brian Moultrup, whose hours had been cut at multiple jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic and he was in need of financial assistance. "It’s just awesome to see the faculty staff and administration getting involved in how to better feed the funds so then we can feed the students."
Swartz said his goal is to ride every day for a year, which would end on May 16, but even with shoulder-surgery pending, Swartz doesn't plan on stopping anytime soon.
"It gives me purpose, it gives me motivation," said Swartz. "My thing is just to push people to do things that they thought they maybe never could do."