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A torturous bike ride in Columbia raises money for mentoring program

Jesse Tubb biked 500 miles over more than 33 hours this past weekend at the Columbia Gateway Business Park to raise funds for a startup organization aimed at mentoring high school students into college.

Tubb, 43, an avid endurance athlete and member of the U.S. Army Band at the Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Arlington, Virginia, rode in a 2-mile loop 250 times beginning at 7 a.m., Saturday and finishing his last lap at 4:25 p.m., Sunday to raise money for the nonprofit OhanaHC.

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Inspired by the activism of the Black Lives Matter movement, Tubb was searching for a way to combine his two passions: volunteer work and endurance sports.

“As a white male, I struggle with how to be an effective part of the solution in a meaningful and authentic way,” said Tubb, of Laurel. “It’s been my experience that building relationships as a mentor and having direct interactions with organizations that actively pursue solutions to end racism is the most effective way forward.”

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OhanaHC will be receiving all of the money Tubb raised, as of Monday that’s more than $12,000. The Columbia-based nonprofit, founded in March, mentors ninth-grade students from the time they enter high school until two years after college.

“This is one way I can help. I can be a mentor and raise money for mentor organizations,” Tubb said.

Jonathan Nipper, incoming executive director at OhanaHC, said the program will have 10 students this school year. Tubb is one of the volunteers in the Howard County area.

“A lot of mentoring programs stop working with kids after they graduate high school,” Nipper said. “Some of the biggest growth happens between 18 and 24. It’s important not to forget about people or mentorships because they graduated high school.”

Over the next month, Nipper will select 10 incoming freshmen who academically are in the bottom 25% percentile of the grade. The students who will make up the first class of OhanaHC will come from Wilde Lake High School. The program hopes to expand to Hammond, Long Reach and Oakland Mills high schools in the future. The money Tubb raised this weekend will go toward funding mentoring.

Mentoring is something Tubb has been sharing with the Howard County community for years, according to Brandon Cave, Tubb’s Little Brother through the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. Their bond, forged 16 years ago, is still alive and was on full display this weekend.

“[Tubb has] been a mentor for me since I was little,” said Cave, 25. “He teaches me how to wade through hard things in life.”

When Cave, a Columbia native, went to college at the University of Maryland, he got involved in endurance athletics, inspired by Tubb’s passion. This weekend, Cave rode alongside Tubb for the first two hours Saturday morning and the last several hours Sunday.

“This is a way to find deeper meaning and purpose in this activity while also feeding that part of ourselves that loves to push ourselves,” Tubb said. “It helps to put into perspective that some people don’t have an option of ending their suffering.”

With 57 miles left on Sunday Tubb’s bike broke, and a teammate riding alongside him let Tubb borrow his bike while the bike was repaired. A few hours later friends and family joined Tubb and his newly repaired bike for the last 30 minutes of his ride. As a group, they took the final laps around the 2-mile loop together.

“No one would donate if I was riding 50 miles in three hours,” he said. “My suffering will end when I stop riding; those who are suffering from poverty, racism, hunger, disenfranchisement or any systemic, long-term issue aren’t as fortunate. For me, it’s a small act of solidarity for anyone who is suffering and has little control over how to find an end to the struggle.”

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