LINCOLN (HOI) - One teen is going the distance, biking across the country, all to raise awareness for a disorder that hits close to home.
A cross country ride brought Emmaus Holder through Lincoln Monday, but it's not just for fun, he's biking for a good cause, riding across America to raise awareness for fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.
The 19-year-old has been riding his bike long distance for years. He said he wanted to bike across Europe this summer, however, COVID had other plans. Instead, he decided to bike across the US, but not without a purpose.
"To raise awareness for and do a little research on something called FASD," Holder said.
FASD, or Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, affects about 5 percent of Americans, according to Holder.
"It's caused by prenatal alcohol exposure and causes a lot of cognitive and physical developmental issues," Holder explained.
He started in Topsail North Carolina and so far has been to Tennessee, Kentucky, Cincinnati, Ohio and Indiana. From Illinois, he'll continue on to Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Utah, and Arizona before finishing in Los Angeles. Along his trek, he's doing research, and talking to families who have also experienced FASD.
"I have two brothers that have it, and knowing a lot of the challenges that come with that, I wanted to raise awareness for it because not a lot of people know what it is," Holder said.
Holder hits the road around 7 a.m. each morning, biking roughly 100 miles per day, stopping every three or so hours to eat and rest. He usually arrives at his destination anywhere between 5 and 8 p.m., depending on how many new friends he makes along the way.
"I'll have a few conversations with people at gas stations just asking me what I'm doing, why I'm doing it, which is fun just getting to explain that I'm riding across the country which often times is very surprising," Holder said.
He then stays with a host family he's connected with in the area, or he'll pitch his one person tent. Holder carries food, water, a tent, spare clothes, a GPS and more all on his bike.
Holder says, the biggest take away from this trip is he's realized he's not alone.
"Even though this is such a big problem, you often feel isolated because there is such stigma surrounding it," Holder said. "So being able to talk to other people that are dealing with the same thing has been a big deal in boosting my confidence in knowing that I'm not going through this alone."
Holder says he's hoping to complete his ride mid-July. He will have biked nearly 4,000 miles by the end of his trip.
After he returns home, he plans to compile his research and publish it in peer reviewed articles