Principal’s cross-country ride ends early due to injury, but message of kindness travels onward

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HURRICANE, UTAH - Hurricane High School principal Jody Rich is always looking for of ways to inspire his students. Late last month, a cross country bike ride ended early after he broke his collar-bone, but the message he intended to send carries on.

Rich started the 1,700-mile bike ride July 13 with the theme, “It’s not about you.”

Rich gave service cards to all of the high school students, with a goal of performing random acts of kindness toward another person, then passing the card along for them to perform service.

“My motto has always been, with my kids, it’s not about you,” Rich said. “Don’t worry about yourself. I wanted my kids to kind of learn that lesson, and I wanted that message to be sent from our little community to others.”

Rich called it a hurricane of service. He took cards with him when he started the bike ride in Washington State, handing them out to strangers on the street. Former Hurricane Middle School principal Roy Hoyt joined Rich. The pair made a ride across the country in 2013 to raise money for computer labs at the two schools.

Hurricane High senior Jaelyn Mendoza took the act of service to heart, pledging 100 acts of kindness. She said it’s a message that quickly spread throughout the student population, as the students followed Rich’s progress on social media.

“I love service. I think it’s so incredible,” Mendoza said. “So I thought it was so awesome, and I was so excited to be able to get involved with it.”

Rich said idea of the cards was to show students and the community that acts of kindness don’t have to be complex. The examples included writing a note to someone, taking a plate of cookies, or paying for a meal.

“I really liked that things were so simple,” said Hurricane High senior Ellie McDonald.

Just 444 miles from his goal, Rich hit a bump in the road, literally. While coming down a canyon pass, he clipped a construction cone and was thrown from his bike. An X-ray confirmed that he’d broken his clavicle in several spots. A bit discouraged, at that point the project took on a new meaning as the community turned the service back on him.

“Now we had the opportunity to ride his last few miles,” McDonald said. “And it just reminded us again what we can do to serve people.”

The service cards have started coming back to Rich through the mail. They tell the story of five simple acts of kindness. Rich said his shoulder will heal, but he hopes the legacy of service keeps riding.

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