Nearly 100 cyclists put rubber to the pavement Saturday morning at the Vernon Christian School, for the purpose of helping schools thousands of kilometres away.
The Lake2Lake Ride for Rwanda is in its 10th year, and the turnout in 2019 has been better than ever. A total of 93 cyclists registered for the ride from Vernon to Eagle Bay and back – a good handful more than the fundraiser had last year. There were even multiple teams from the coast that came out for the Okanagan trek.
Funding support from the two-day bike ride goes to the Wellspring Foundation for Education. As of this morning the riders had raised more than $106,000, nudging up to their goal of $110,000. There’s plenty of time to reach the goal, this being day one of the ride and donations being accepted for the next month or so.
The ride rolled out in three heats, with slower riders taking off at 9 a.m. sharp to get a head start on the experienced riders and teams that set out at 9:30.
The riders will tackle 110 kilometres of terrain Saturday before stopping to rest in Eagle Bay, where they’ll be given free meals and accommodation and can even sign up for a complimentary massage. Then it’s back to Vernon the next day to complete a round trip of about 210 kilometres.
“We believe that every child deserves to receive a quality education that will make a difference in their life,” said Kristie Voth, Wellspring’s public engagement coordinator.
Wellspring’s approach to education aid is to facilitate change from within Rwandan communities, rather than giving handouts.
“We have a team of Rwandan trainers who come alongside Rwandan teachers, and they mentor them and they encourage them and equip them with tools as they face large classrooms, low resources … and systemic challenges within the country,” said Voth.
Joel Haberstock, a teacher at Vernon Christian School and second time volunteer for the ride, had high praise for Wellspring as the first riders rounded the corner out of the school parking lot.
“They work with education schools in Rwanda, and they’re well-loved by the (Rwanda) government. They’re doing amazing work with kids.
“Canadians know there’s been a lot of Canadian presence in Rwanda over the years … to come in as a Canadian organization doing great work there, it’s just phenomenal,” added Haberstock, who has participated in the ride in the past himself.
The Wellspring Foundation supports quality education in more than 124 Rwandan schools. Over its previous nine years the Lake2Lake fundraiser has accrued more than $689,000 in donations for the foundation. Donations for this year’s ride can be made at the Lake2Lake.org.
Cycling fundraisers appear to be the theme of the day in Vernon. In the afternoon, riders taking part in the Cops for Kids fundraiser for local children will make their way through the city for the penultimate stop of their 1,000-kilometre journey.