The Missourian: Cyclists Supporting Global Health Stop in Washington

by Paul Hackbarth in The Missourian on 30 May, 2012

About 20 cyclists stopped overnight Wednesday, May 16, in Washington as part of a 3,700-mile ride to raise awareness about global health issues.

The cyclists were with Ride for World Health, a nonprofit group, and began April 11 in San Diego, Calif., and will end in Bethany Beach, Del., June 3.

The cyclists are fourth-year medical students from Ohio, New York, Indiana, Texas and Massachusetts.

Two of the riders are Nicole and Brad Siegele, a married couple from Dallas, Texas, who acted as crew members Wednesday afternoon.

Cyclists take turns riding and rotate about every five to six days. About 15 to 20 cyclists ride per day.

On days when they are not riding, they act as crew members who arrive at the destinations ahead of time to put directional markers up for cyclists.

Wednesday afternoon, May 16, the Siegeles were at the Washington Farmers’ Market waiting for the cyclists to arrive.

While they waited, they set up a booth to educate and spread the word about the ride.

The group of cyclists left Jefferson City Wednesday around 8:30 a.m. May 16 and arrived at the Washington Farmers’ Market between 4 and 5 p.m.

On Wednesday night, May 16, they stayed at the Four Rivers Area Family YMCA in Washington and left Thursday morning, May 17, for St. Louis.

There are a total of 19 riders who will take their bicycles the entire length of the trip while others will ride for only a portion of the route.

Cyclists travel about 60 to 100 miles per day, according to Lisa Winton, a student at The Ohio State University College of Medicine, and CEO of Ride for World Health. This is her first year riding.

Nicole said this year’s group is one of the most diverse in terms of age. There is an 18-year-old high school student and a 69-year-old man who always wanted to ride his bicycle across the country.

Participants spend anywhere from four to eight hours on their bikes. Brad said some days, “it’s been a struggle to finish before sunset,” noting the longest day has been 12 hours.

Along the route, cyclists and crew members will stop at schools or churches and hold talks about nutrition and global health.

Most of the participants are from Ohio State University’s who have interests in global health and cycling.

Brad and Nicole are fourth-year medical students at the University of Texas Southwest in Dallas, Texas. They heard about the program last year when the ride came through Fort Worth, Texas.

Ride for World Health has three missions, according to Nicole, which are advocacy, education and fundraising.

The ride benefits three organizations — MANA (Mother Administered Nutritive Aid), a charitable organization which helps children who suffer from malnutrition; SOIL (Sustainable Organic Integrated Livelihoods), a nonprofit dedicated to protecting soil resources, empowering communities and transforming wastes into resources in Haiti; and Louie’s Kids a foundation that provides multiple resources for obese children.

The first Ride for World Health took place in 2006 and a different route is chosen each year.

For more information on the ride, people may visit www.rideforworldhealth.org.

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