Matt Barbaccia, a 2016 graduate of Syracuse University’s College of Engineering and Computer Science, kicks off his cross-country bicycle ride today, heading from Jacksonville, Florida to Santa Rosa, California.

Barbaccia’s ride is intended to raise awareness about Parkinson’s disease, and along his trip, he’ll track and chronicle his journey on a website created by students from Syracuse’s School of Information Studies (iSchool).

His trip website,, where viewers can track his progress, was developed through the assistance of the iSchool’s iConsult graduate student organization. The team—which included a faculty advisor, project manager and five student web designers and editors—worked with him to build the site. Family, friends, and other interested viewers can track his progress through an interactive map, read daily blogs and catch up with photos and videos, including ones shot from a drone. The site also functions to seek donations for The Michael J. Fox Foundation.

“When I decided to do this for charity, there was only one cause that came to mind, and that was Parkinson’s disease,” said Barbaccia. “This disease has affected my uncle Mark for over roughly 15 years now and has severely worsened over time. I’ve grown up seeing the progression of his symptoms, and I have always wished there was something I could do. There are many people whose lives have been touched by Parkinson’s. I know this cause will resonate with them.”

The iSchool team who worked on Barbaccia’s site were inspired by what they saw in the recent graduate. “We see his motivation, we see his drive and it’s really helped motivate us,” Mariel Rosario, a student in the iSchool’s MS in Information Management graduate program said to the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. “He’s doing something we all dream about – trying to spread awareness of an issue that’s important to him, but also going through his own journey of growth.”

“I was immediately impressed with Matt when he first came to me to discuss the possibility of having an iConsult team build his website,” said Art Thomas, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the iSchool, and faculty advisor to the iConsult group. “His passion for the cause, and his determination to achieve his goal, really motivated all of us.”

Thomas also had words of praise for the student group building the website. “Mariel has had a lot of experience working with local non-profit groups, so she was an ideal project leader for this effort, and this shows what can be done when everyone involved contributes their own specialties to a worthy cause.”

For more information about Barbaccia and his bike ride, visit his Ride4Parkinsons website.