Bruyneel, World Bicycle Relief raising money in Africa

Astana manager looking to raise US$1M in November

Chicago-based World Bicycle Relief (WBR) and World Vision are partnering on a three-year, US$12M campaign to provide more than 75,000 bicycles to people in need.

The campaign will be anchored by an annual cycling trip called the Million Dollar Ride in Africa that raises US$1M, beginning this November with Astana team manager and WBR board member Johan Bruyneel.

The inaugural event will take place this November in Zambia and Cape Town, South Africa. As a team director, Bruyneel has won nine Tours de France, two Giro d'Italias and two Tours of Spain. He will be joined by F.K. Day, World Bicycle Relief president and SRAM Corporation executive vice president, who will lead a small group of influential and committed individuals to help make a significant breakthrough on awareness of and solutions to the problems of mobility in rural Africa.  

"From time to time, F.K. will call and update me on the latest happenings with World Bicycle Relief," Bruyneel said. "It’s very interesting to hear F.K.’s stories on just how a simple bike can drastically change someone’s life and better yet, save people.

"Before I became a board member of World Bicycle Relief last year, I’ll admit that having a bike was something I took for granted. I grew up on a bike and have been surrounded my entire life with some of the most expensive and nicest bikes in the world.

"But when reading the stories or looking at the pictures, it doesn’t take long to change that mindset - to realise how useful a bike can be and how people’s lives have improved because of two wheels and the work of World Bicycle Relief," he added.

The 12-day encounter will begin in Zambia, where participants will meet HIV/AIDS caregivers, student recipients and microfinance loan clients in order to understand personally how bicycles can alleviate the daily realities of living in poverty.  

"Through a significant financial contribution by participants, we hope to place thousands of bicycles into the hands of deserving people as an enduring solution to poverty and provide the experience of a lifetime demonstrating the power of bicycles," Day said.

World Bicycle Relief is asking for a donation in the range of US$50,000 to $100,000 from each participant in order to reach this goal. This donation does not include the costs of the trip, which are US$8,975 per person excluding transatlantic airfare.

"While this fundraising event might be out of the range that many of us can contribute personally, there are other ways to support World Bicycle Relief using your passion for cycling and your creativity," said Jill Reid, WBR's vice president of devlopment. "We invite folks to learn more about Team World Bicycle Relief and opportunities to spread 'The Power of Bicycles' in their community."

The 2009 group is limited to 24 people.

"(F.K.) told me that he was getting tired of telling me the stories, sending me pictures and small video clips," Bruyneel added. "He wanted me to really experience the power of the bicycle – to lead a group of people on an adventure throughout Africa to not only witness the work of World Bicycle Relief, but also be actively involved – building and distributing bikes, seeing first-hand how the bike enables students to get an education, or how AIDS/HIV caregivers use the bike to visit their patients more frequently.

"For me, this is something that I’ve wanted to do since F.K. sat in my house and explained the World Bicycle Relief mission back in 2008," Bruyneel explained. "It’s one thing to be affiliated with an organisation, but it’s another thing to be an active team member, and I am honoured to have this opportunity."

Trek Travel is coordinating and hosting the South African bicycle excursion.

For more information, visit www.worldbicyclerelief.org.

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