September 3, 2013
Most students take a bus or a car to the first day of class, but one student from Blue Ridge School is doing it a little differently this year.
George Kersey is ready for his senior year to start on Thursday after a long journey back from his home state of Texas.
With little more than two wheels and determination, Kersey loaded his 1994 Gary Fisher bicycle in early August and set out to wind his way from the south end of the Natchez Trace Trail, starting in Mississippi.
His goal -- making it the the Blue Ridge School in time for his first class.
When he arrived in central Virginia on Tuesday afternoon, the device tracking Kersey's journey clocked in at 781.9 miles while friends, family and school members cheered.
"I've always had the dream of traveling by bicycle," said Kersey.
The trip wasn't glamorous.
"A lot of the times I would just sleep on the side of the road in my hammock and wake up at around 4 in the morning, make breakfast and get back on the road by 6," said Kersey.
While the majority of his ride was done solo, one of Kersey's inspirations rode alongside him for the last portion of the trip -- Blue Ridge School counselor Markley Anderson.
"I think George exemplifies what teenagers can do if they put their minds to it," said Anderson. "He really inspires me to keep pushing myself."
Kersey says distance biking is both a mental and physical challenge.
"It's like having an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other shoulder that's telling me to stop on one side and the other is [saying], 'Keep going. You love this so much,'" said Kersey.
The self-proclaimed adrenaline junkie also had the support of friends and family during the trip that took him through five states.
"We're just so proud of him that he followed through," said Betsey Kersey, George's grandmother, who watched him cross the finish line with George's grandfather, Jerry.
Family friends Coleman and Katherine Easterly were also there to welcome him back to the Blue Ridge School.
"He did it all by himself. I mean, that is so far, and I'm so proud of him," said Katherine Easterly. "I think he's really established himself as a leader, and I think he will inspire others."
Even though the school year is just beginning, Kersey has been learning all summer long on the road, and those at the school say other students can learn from him, too.
"I think he'll also be a role model for the boys here this year. A lot of them saw him come in today and, you know, it's a pretty special thing," said Anderson. "We expect great things from our boys, and we support their journey -- wherever that may be," said Anderson.