Young Philanthropists pedal through Destin

Jessica Coker
Back row, pictured from the left — Matt Friedlund, Marty Ethington, Ryan Conley, Georgie Jacks, Julie Crandall, Monica Pacanins, Ashley Haynes and Elijah Smith, make-up the team of eight Young Philanthropists who are riding their bicycles across the country.

At the beginning of January, with more than 100 pounds of gear strapped to their bicycles, expedition leader Matt Friedlund and seven others began a five-month-long trip across the country with their community service organization, the Young Philanthropists. The trek took them to Destin this week.

Dedicated to changing lives, the Young Philanthropists took off on the Young and Wild expedition.

Founded less than a year ago, the YP utilizes curriculum, adventure and excitement to mentor young people around the world while raising funds and awareness for impoverished communities.

Partnering with Casa De Luz, the Honduran-led non-governmental organization that focuses on feeding and educating children, the ultimate goal of the YP during the epic bike trip is to raise enough money — about $25,000, to cover the construction costs of a building in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, that will provide children a safe environment where they will receive meals, education and occasionally shelter.

While in Destin, the group stayed at Village Baptist Church on Matthew Boulevard. They were supposed to volunteer at a local thrift shop while staying in Destin, but at the last minute the project was cancelled.

Working toward their finish-line in Seattle, the YP team is stopping in communities along the way to do a wide array of personal and public community service projects.

"We'll be organizing potluck dinners, volunteering with state parks and so much more," said Friedlund. "We're seeking to engage every community we stop in as much as possible."

In addition, the YP will spread their time throughout communities helping the elderly, victims of natural disasters and even stopping as frequently as possible to lend a hand to those who need roadside assistance.

The group told The Log that they have a conservative goal of two volunteer projects per week — and they're inviting entire communities out to help them along the way.

You don't have to be an expert bicyclist to join the YP movement — "anyone can join us, at any point, for any amount of time," Friedlund said, "individuals, bike clubs, schools — everyone is welcome."

Leaving Destin on Thursday, the next stop for the group is Pensacola.

To learn more about the Young Philanthropists and to keep up with their Young and Wild expedition, visit or visit them at