Bikes change lives

Children. Education. Bicycles.

As I've mentioned, these are three of my favorite things. It's why, when I learned of EduGo and their partnership with Asia's Hope to purchase bicycles so the children have safe, reliable transportation to school, I was immediately hooked and compelled to get involved.

It's not much of an exaggeration to say that my own bicycle saved me. When I bought it in 2008, I was overweight, out of shape and depressed. But I regained a sense of adventure, excitement and wonder while exploring on two wheels. And I also learned the joy of riding for a purpose, by riding for the American Cancer Society in the Pan Ohio Hope Ride. Stay tuned for more on that next month when I ride across Ohio for the ninth time...

But for the most part, we use bicycles in the United States primarily for fitness, recreation and leisure. Some people commute or otherwise use bikes as transportation, but it's usually as a supplement to a car or developed public transit systems. I can think of only a couple people I've known who actually rely on their bikes as a way of life. But here, a bicycle or a motor scooter can make a real difference to someone's quality of life, allowing them to get to school or to a job. Some of the Asia's Hope campuses include on-site schools, serving the Asia's Hope kids and children from the surrounding communities. But not all grade levels are represented, and some schools are a considerable distance from the homes. At the Prek Eng campus, for example, there is an elementary school, but students above grade six must travel to continue their education. Walking to and from their schools is, quite simply, unsafe.

In the year and a half I've been working with Jeremy on EduGo projects, the organization has delivered dozens of bicycles to kids in India, Thailand and Cambodia, and it has been one of the most fulfilling things I've ever done. And I am continually blown away by the kindness and generosity of our supporters. In addition to the Road to Success Ride, which is gearing up for its second year, we're working on including some other, smaller fundraisers throughout the year.

And this past winter, local Columbus bike shop Paradise Garage stepped up to the plate. Their team came together to create a beautiful custom cruiser to raffle off over the holiday season. The idea was that one bike in Columbus would become multiple bikes for children on the other side of the world to ride to school. 

Thanks to PG and those who participated in the raffle, that one bike has now become six bikes, which were delivered to the newest Asia's Hope home, Prek Eng 6. This home was just opened last fall, so these are the most recently rescued kids here. Many of them have never owned anything in their lives, and it was amazing to see their bright smiles and hear one of them proudly exclaim, "This is my bicycle." I'm not sure anything has ever given me more joy.

Thank you, to Dan & Emily Monnig and the entire team of Paradise Garage. You've sparked so much joy in these kids. And thanks to Jared Heveron for capturing this project on video. So happy to see the conclusion of the story in person this week!