Young Teacher Biking Across America Senselessly Killed By Driver On Her Phone

Photo via Facebook.com
This story could have had such a happy ending. Patrick Wanninkhof, 25, was a high school teacher in the Bronx with a passion for helping his underprivileged students learn physics. Spurred on by that desire, he was leading a group of cyclists on a ride from Maine to California to raise money to build affordable housing. On Thursday morning, just a month away from reaching his destination, he was struck and killed in Oklahoma. Another cyclist who was with him, 22-year-old Bridget Anderson, remains in critical condition.

The driver of the vehicle that hit them from behind told police she was looking at her phone.

Now, instead of throwing your own phone across the room after reading that, take a minute to be inspired by Wanninkhof.
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"As a teacher in the Bronx, I know that biking across America pales in comparison to the struggles my students must overcome on a daily basis," he wrote in his bio for Bike and Build, the organization for which he was riding. "The middle-class ideal of meritocracy instilled me with the misguided belief that all my students needed to do was work harder and success would follow. This mindset was soon challenged when a student told me that she and her mom had been moving between relatives' houses every week after they couldn't pay rent. How on earth could I expect her to give her all to Newton's Laws when she wasn't sure where she'd be sleeping that evening?"

"How on earth could I expect her to give her all to Newton's Laws when she wasn't sure where she'd be sleeping that evening?"


Wanninkhof had a degree in materials engineering from the University of Florida, and through Teach for America he had just received a master's in teaching adolescent physics from Fordham University.


"He did very well in his studies, and we were surprised that he didn’t go into industry work, but he wanted to do something that affected people’s day-to-day lives," Wanninkhof's father told The Oklahoman.

He had ridden 2,462 of the 3,987 miles he had planned on, en route to Santa Barbara, CA, but as of this writing he has doubled his fundraising goal, gathering $9,421. Head over to Bike and Build to learn more about Wanninkhof's mission.

Update:
Wanninkhof's family has now started collecting funds at PatrickLivesOn.org (through Bike and Build) to start a program to teach underprivileged youth and adults in Miami how to ride bicycles safely.

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