By Logan Lawson
Three young men are combining their love of cycling with their passion to help others as they bike across the country.
Giancarlo Ospina, 25, of Springfield, Mo., worked until recently as a web designer for a non-profit organization called I Pour Life. According to their website, I Pour Life’s vision is to equip individuals with the tools to become sustainable which in turn brings dignity to the individual and the entire family. One of the programs the organization offers is called the 10x10 program.
“They take 10 women at a time and for 10 weeks they train them on a skill,” Explained Ospina. “Then for ten months they fund their first business.”
I Pour Life conducts their 10x10 program in a leprosy-heavy community in Ethiopia known as Korah. The community is located next to an old trash dump outside of the country’s capital of Addis Ababa.
Ospina was offered a chance to travel to Ethiopia with the organization and what he experienced while there inspired him to do his part in making a difference. An avid cyclist, he got together with two friends Jesse Tyler, 21, and Dakota Graff, 23, also cyclists, and decided they were going to do their first tour in honor of the women of Korah.
“Seeing what I had seen in Korah and what he (Tyler) had heard also, it made most sense to do this with I Pour Life,” said Ospina.
The three men spent time gathering camping supplies and finding sponsors for their trip before heading out to New York to begin their cross-country journey to Seattle, Wash. Their goal during their trip was to raise awareness for the 10x10 program and raise $50,000 to help fund the efforts of I Pour Life in their effort to help improve the quality of life for the women of Korah.
Beginning in early May, the three dipped their back tires in the Atlantic Ocean before making their way west. After a brief stop in Springfield, they began making their way north, eventually jumping on to the Cowboy Trail in Norfolk. From their, they began making their way towards O’Neill, with a short stop in Neligh for lunch.
Nearing the halfway point of their tour, the three have raised approximately $20,000, just short of halfway of their goal. They hope to see an increase in giving as word of their cause spreads. The generosity of the sponsorships they gained has helped cover their budget so that the money they earn doesn’t go anywhere but to Korah.
“When people make donations on the website, 100% goes to the field,” explained Tyler.
While the group is using their love of cycling to make a difference for the women of Korah, they encourage everyone to use their own talents to do good in the world as well.
“On the sides of our jerseys we got ‘Because we’re able’ written,” said Ospina. “It’s the idea that everyone can take what they are interested in, what resources they have available to them, and do something. We’re all able to do something.”
For those looking to help the group’s financial efforts, they encourage everyone to follow, share and give.
“We do have social media accounts on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter,” explained Ospina. “You can give on our site at rideforkorah.com/donate.”
While the three have been working hard during their journey to help the women of Korah, they have enjoyed the experience on a personal level as well.
“It’s all that we had hoped for, but different then what we had imagined,” said Graff. “It’s been such an interesting experience being able to go out with each other and do this crazy thing and be stretched in every direction but at the end of it we have so many amazing experiences and memories that we’ve built.”