Meet Climate Ride California’s top fundraiser and San Franciscan, Jenny Shu. As of 9/7/12 she surpassed $10,500 in funds raised – making her the top fundraiser in Climate Ride history. Jenny selected these Climate Ride beneficiaries to be the recipients of a grant: San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, Natural Resources Defense Council, Carbon War Room, and the Center for Resource Solutions.

What inspired you to ride?
I’ve been bike commuting since 2008, as a way to shorten my bus commute, get a little exercise and be a little more green.  My desire to decrease my carbon footprint has grown over the years and I’ve become increasingly aware of the impact of my day-to-day activities on the environment.  My little brother introduced me to road biking in 2010 and later that year, he told me about the NYC-DC Climate Ride and that there was a California ride as well.  At the time, I had never heard of it but I couldn’t think of a better way to marry two of my biggest passions, environmental advocacy and biking, into one event.  San Francisco is already quite a progressive city when it comes to environmentalism, but I wanted a louder and more tangible way to broadcast the need for change and action to save our planet.  I also loved the fact that I could choose my beneficiaries… I was more motivated to raise money for organizations that I hand-picked.

What motivated you to take your fundraising to the next level?
I’ve done a lot of group fundraising in a group setting through events for breast cancer, organ donation awareness, and other great causes but I had never fundraised on my own like this.  I was really unsure of the response to donate to my ride, especially with so many other big fundraising bike events in the Bay Area.  I set my original expectations pretty low because I did not want to miss hitting my goal.  When I saw the donations coming in, I was touched, though not completely surprised, to find out that many of my friends are equally concerned with the state of our planet and fully supported what I was doing.  Seeing people’s responses to my social media postings and emails about the ride and why I was riding made me realize I was having an impact on people’s awareness of the cause, and that really drove me to step up my game.  I took every opportunity I could to explain why climate change and sustainability are such important issues right now so important… if they chose to donate, great.  If not, then at least my message was heard, and that more important to me than anything else.

How has your awareness raising and taking on this challenge affected the people around you?
I believe if you are truly passionate about something, there’s no faking it… zeal for the cause is true and transparent, and can be contagious to everyone around you.  Facebook was a very powerful tool for me in my fundraising.  I loved seeing people’s comments and posts on Facebook supporting the Climate Ride and my activity and events generated from it.  For every friends that was posting /commenting on my wall, all of their friends were also seeing that on their news feed and from there, the spider web of social media can really have a bigger impact than you might realize.  I also wanted to make raising awareness (and funds) a *fun* experience for my friends, not simply a fundraising task.  I tried hard to think of creative ways to encourage people to donate: giving stickers/buttons to my donors, hosting an ice cream party, having a dance party, making ice cream cakes, giving dj lessons, etc.  I think associating “fun” with the awareness-raising (and fundraising) makes the message even more impactful.

What’s your vision for change – what do you hope to see in the future?
We live in a busy world and I recognize that not everyone has infinite money, time or energy to devote to living an ideal sustainable lifestyle.  However, what I do want to see is people trying to make small changes in their daily habits that can decrease their carbon footprint.  I think the changes have to start small for people who are not necessarily already making a big effort to be “green”.  Those small changes can drive increased awareness, conscious or not, and can seep into a larger portion of people’s everyday lives.  Change can be intimidating to people but if you encourage people to start small, there’s a better chance of successful change in habits.  If you multiply a small change by every human on this Earth, imagine how that would impact our planet!

Thanks Jenny!

And thanks to Xtracycle for donating this fantastic cargo bike to this year’s top fundraiser! Xtracycle brings you the Radish Eco: it represents the quintessential Xtracycle experience and all-in-one cargo solution. Warning: song singing, laughing, and uncontrollable giggles may result!

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