Solana Beach businessman completes 2,400-mile bicycle trek for Chicago nonprofit

Daniell Powell

A trip to Chicago to support a pastor’s philanthropic efforts to end gun violence and poverty turned into a 2,400-mile bicycle ride by Solana Beach businessman Daniel Powell.

The near cross-country ride ended March 20 at the Santa Monica Pier.

Powell said he raised more than $200,000, including his own matching donations, to help fund construction of a community center and other initiatives designed to rejuvenate a low-income, high-crime Chicago neighborhood.

Pastor Cory B. Brooks is the founder and executive director of Project H.O.O.D., the nonprofit organization behind those initiatives. Powell participated in a “Tent-A-Thon,” which involved rooftop camping, that Brooks held to further the nonprofit’s work.

With a desire to help out even more, Powell saw an opportunity to raise funds for every mile while accomplishing his dream of biking across the country on Route 66. A wide range of donors, from close friends to new acquaintances, began supporting Powell when they learned about the cause.

“It’s been really heartwarming,” he said, adding that it helps send the message that “every life is valuable, every Black life is valuable.”

Powell started cycling in February, donning his Captain Challenge costume. Captain Challenge is a persona he created in 2000 to help raise money for other charities.

Every day he got up, ate breakfast and started riding from about 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Forty days later, with Powell riding about 60 miles every day, his journey was complete. His single-day maximum was 151 miles, which took about 15 hours.

“No day was typical, but there were a few things that were constant,” Powell said. “A 20 mph headwind was a constant. Thirty-nine of the 40 days I had a 20 mph headwind. The only times that that changed were when it went to 30 and there were two days that it went to 50.”

He added that some of the memorable moments along the way included seeing the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, as well as trips to the Grand Canyon and Joshua Tree.

Powell said he will continue to support the work of Project H.O.O.D.

“When the ‘why’ is strong enough, you figure it out,” he added. “And this is a pretty big why, when you have people who are really written off as having zero hope for success in the future. I’m not going to agree that we’re writing off hundreds of thousands of people.”

There will be a family-friendly finish line party open to the public, including live music and a DJ, at the Village on Cedros at 5 p.m. on March 26.

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