Houston lawyer Michael “Mickey” Branisa bicycles across the country to honor his late son and raise support for the Bush School of Government and Public Service.
The Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University was founded under former President George H.W. Bush’s philosophy that public service is a noble calling. Michael “Mickey” Branisa saw that calling in his late son, Ryan, and now looks to raise support for others as equally passionate by biking 3,800 miles across America.
Mickey is a Houston lawyer with 30 years of experience under his belt. In 2010, his 14-year-old son Ryan passed away after an accidental fall while hiking Table Mountain in South Africa. To honor their son’s memory, Mickey and his wife Susan established an endowed gift to create the Michael Ryan Branisa Endowed Fellowship through the Texas A&M Foundation. Distributions from this endowment will be used to provide fellowships to full-time students in good academic standing pursuing a graduate degree from the Bush School of Government and Public Service.
“Ryan very much liked Bush 41’s style and his policies—especially his international policies—and I’m confident that he would have gone into the public service arena,” said Mickey. “Susan and Ryan visited the campus and the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum one month before his passing. Since he couldn’t graduate from there, something we can do is gather attention and support towards our cause in hopes that other people will feel the desire to contribute.”
“Whenever Susan and I have visited the Bush School, the students appear to be what we as a country need: young leaders with a passion for public service. Today’s youth unfortunately often does not have the financing to finish their studies. Ryan would’ve been a leader, and we want to help other young people develop into leaders in his memory.”
Mickey is embarking on a cross-country bike ride on Aug. 20, and hopes to raise support for the Bush School and its vision. He further views this cycling endeavor as a personal journey and an apt metaphor for life, full of challenges, setbacks and triumphs. His ride will cover 3,800 miles of northern U.S. landscape.
He will begin in Portland, Oregon, on Aug. 20 and finish in Portland, Maine, on Oct. 4. He’s been an avid bicyclist for 30 years and has already taken a partial sabbatical from practicing law to begin training and riding the trek.
The route averages 91 miles per day, and there are 18 days of riding over 100 miles, so Mickey has trained intensely, on different types of terrain. “I’ve always wanted to see America up close, and I think this is a great way to do it.”
There will be 20 others making the trek at the same time, many of whom are also bicycling for a cause. Although Mickey has been an avid bicyclist for 30 years, the 55-year-old has concerns about the physical strain of such a journey, especially with two hip replacements.
“This ride is in part a celebration and remembrance of a life well-lived by Ryan. May the ride be an inspiration to others, including the recipients of the Ryan Branisa Fellowship at the Bush School, to always challenge themselves,” Mickey said. “I hope this ride will also raise awareness and support for the school that graduates young leaders, many of whom go into the area of public service both at home and abroad, in the mold and vision of Bush 41.”
“I think the Bush School embodies a lot of what Ryan stood for and what our family stands for,” Mickey said.
Check Mickey Branisa’s public Facebook page to follow Mickey’s trek across the U.S. and track his progress in real time.
He will also be posting pictures from his journey at michael_branisa on Instagram.