Weatherford Democrat

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June 27, 2012

Riding to help others

WEATHERFORD — What makes someone ride a bicycle 3,000 miles through summer heat to promote a cause half a world away?

Nine young people make up the Ride:Well team, which began their trek in San Diego June 4 wishing to raise funds and awareness for the water and HIV/AIDS crisis in Sub-Saharan Africa. Their trip brought them to Weatherford Tuesday afternoon where the group was scheduled to speak at Northside Baptist Church about Blood:Water Mission, an organization that seeks to empower communities to work together against the water and HIV/AIDS crises in Africa. Since its inception in 2004, the mission has funded clean water projects in more than 1,000 communities and started three HIV/AIDS clinics in Africa.

Funds raised through Ride:Well will go specifically to the Marsabit region of Kenya, an area in the Horn of Africa that has been severely affected by the recent drought. Together, past Ride:Well teams have raised nearly $500,000 to support the Tumaini Medical Center and multiple water projects in Marsabit.

The Ride:Well Tour is organized by Venture Expeditions, an adventure-driven humanitarian non-profit working to connect people with causes through dozens of various outdoor adventures.

One of the riders, Carlee Nestelberger, got to see the problem firsthand when she spent a semester studying in Uganda. As part of her time, she did a research project on the lack of water there. After spending time there, she was compelled to take part in the bike ride.

The group, who had never met each other before the bike ride, comes from different areas of the country, but has one common goal. A goal of $40,000 had been set to raise for awareness and the group is roughly halfway to their financial goal, according to team member Josias Hansen.

Hansen, a Minnesota native, said the feedback has been mostly positive with the message the group is providing, particularly when potential donors find out how cheap it is.

“One dollar will provide one African clean water for one year,” Hansen said. “People find that out and they’re willing to help.”

There have also been those who wish to focus on helping America’s own as well. That only fueled the group’s mindset to work harder. “We’re going into beast mode now,” Steven Trusty said.

Each member had to do their own fundraising for bikes, helmets, gloves, shorts and such for the trip. Nestelberger had her bike donated by a former high school teacher. The trip has been relatively event free, the riders doing their cycling early in the day to avoid the tenuous heat and spending the evenings with church groups.

The tour will end July 27 in Myrtle Beach, S.C. For information or to donate, visit ridewelltour.org.

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