UT’s Baptist Ministry Gives Spring Breakers Free Rides

Catherine Cahn, Life and Arts Reporter

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in the April 1, 2022 flipbook.

As a night out on South Padre Island came to an end, advertising sophomore Andrea Bazan stood among her friends, trying to decide the best way to get back to their rental house. When Bazan caught sight of UT’s Baptist Student Ministry offering free rides to spring breakers, they found the safest way home. 

Since 1980, students in BSM chapters across Texas have traveled to South Padre Island during spring break for their Beach Reach, an annual initiative to offer spring breakers free rides and food, as well as keep them safe. This year, UT’s BSM sent 31 students and nine staff members to South Padre for a week of group activities. The group offered rides to 1,620 spring breakers over the course of their trip.

“They were super helpful,” Bazan said. “It was really convenient because they were (just) across the street. Since we were traveling in a group, it was hard to get an Uber for everybody or figure out how everybody would get (back).”

BSM set up tents in popular nighttime areas and gave out cards with their hotline number during the day to promote their free rides. 

“As Christians, our primary goal is to love God and others,” BSM staff member and 2019 alumna Jamie Richardson said. “A primary way we get to share love is by keeping college students safe.” 

History senior Cristian Quiroga said he sees Beach Reach as a way to use his Christian beliefs to benefit others.

“I have a duty,” Quiroga said. “It’s necessary for me to go in, serve and help (spring breakers).”

Richardson said she has witnessed firsthand the impact of BSM’s free rides, especially when spring breakers get separated from their friends. 

“There have been several times where we’ve noticed women in precarious situations where they’re going to be taken advantage of,” Richardson said. “We’re able to reconnect them with their friends. Primarily, it’s about their safety. We get them home safe.”

Bazan, who said she felt grateful to find a way to get herself and her friends home safely, appreciated the BSM volunteers engaging with the riders.

“Everybody we met was a college student, so we related to them,” Bazan said. “We would talk about school, and (only) sometimes would they bring up, ‘Oh, what’s your relationship to God?’” 

For Richardson, the most memorable part of Beach Reach was connecting with UT students already familiar with BSM. 

“We got a van full (of UT students) one time, and (a girl) was like, ‘I know the BSM. We go get free lunch from Moontower.’ It’s a cool connection. I’m glad that people know us for that.”

After spending spring break watching out for others’ safety, Richardson said she felt their work was appreciated by parents.

“The larger organization got a message from a mother and a grandmother who said, ‘My kid is on South Padre Island, and y’all got her home safe last night. Thank you so much,’” Richardson said. “Those are the kind of stories that are really special.”