For UCI student Adam Brody, who can frequently be found riding his unicycle, life is a balancing act between school and volunteer work.

While pursuing his degree in Earth system science, he engages in a variety of activities to help those like himself who come from troubled homes.

Brody is the organizer of a recent fundraiser for Orangewood Children’s Foundation in Santa Ana, which helps abused and neglected children. Brody and members of the Unicycle Club of Southern California rode laps around a track at a San Juan Capistrano middle school and netted about $1,000 for Orangewood from sponsors.

“It was a cool way for kids to help other kids,” he says.

He wants to support the organization that helped him when he was in foster care and enabled him to attend UCI through its Guardian Scholars Program.

“I couldn’t go to college without the scholarship,” he says. “I had the grades, but not the financial support. I was on my own.”

Brody doesn’t say much about his childhood – only that he doesn’t want anyone else to experience what he did.

“Foster kids go through the toughest stuff; they’re pulled out of their homes.”

He moved into a foster home his senior year in high school. In 2003, he started the unicycle club; the group has grown to 22 members.

“Some of the kids come from dysfunctional families. Teaching them to ride builds self-esteem.”

Brody also visits local elementary schools to teach kids how to play chess and entertain them with “crazy science experiments,” like melting Styrofoam witches’ heads or making slime. After graduating, he hopes to work with children – perhaps as a science teacher.

“Adam has genuine concern for kids,” says Gene Howard, CEO of Orangewood. “He’s a wonderful example of how foster youth can succeed in life despite their painful pasts. I know he’ll achieve great things.”