CHICAGO (CBS) — A Chicago native and college basketball player is biking his way across America to raise money and awareness about those with intellectual disabilities.

21-year-old Brennan Besser hopped on a bike in Seattle on May 16 to embark on his cross-country bike ride. On July 18th he end his journey in New York, where he will have completed roughly 3,400 miles for his charity “Walk on America.”

He says he embarked on his cross-country adventure to shine light on those like his sister, Jacqueline, who is on the Autism spectrum.

Besser stopped by CBS 2 recently to share his story about his labor of love.

“We have similarities in that we have siblings with disabilities or special needs,” he said. “I have four older sisters. Jacqueline, who is 23, is developmentally delayed in the sense she is non-verbal. She uses an iPad to communicate.”

Besser says his bike trip across American is more than just a bike ride. Besser, who played high school basketball at Latin and is currently a walk-on at NCAA’s Duke University, will host basketball clinics at several of his stops. He stopped at Misericordia, where big names like DePaul women’s coach Doug Bruno and DA Coach Mike Ditka helped his cause.

“Basketball is the vessel in which Coach K is able to teach us about leadership,” Besser said. “The bike ride is merely a vessel to raise awareness for this community which is commonly hidden. If you are not connected to it now, hopefully not, you may be.”

Besser says this is his first campaign. His goal is to raise $1 million.

“I know I will be doing things to help other sectors of the American population experiencing difficulties. It’s daunting, at times, but I am trying to do as much as I can. I try to shock people, try to do establish the kind of person I am,” he said.

 

For more about Walk On America, visit walkonamerica.org