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Students bike to help build Ugandan school

April 16, 2009

The capital city of Uganda is 7,873 miles across the Atlantic Ocean from River Falls.

UW-River Falls’ Building Tomorrow chapter members have made plans for students, staff and community members to symbolically bike the distance to Kampala from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. during April 29th’s Unity in the Community day-long event.

Building Tomorrow chapter has raised $10,500 since it began three years ago. Bike to Uganda is an effort to raise $4,500—the final amount needed to reach its goal of $15,000. The international non-profit organization will add UWRF’s money to $30,000 from an anonymous donor from Indianapolis—the city where Building Tomorrow is headquartered—to make the $45,000 needed to build a school in Uganda.

UWRF’s Building Tomorrow student manager Alicia Hurkman said she thinks it will be a success if athletic teams and the residence halls get involved.

“We thought we would try a different way to raise money,” she said. “Our University is into physical activity and it’s a good way to raise awareness and volunteers.”

Twelve stationary bicycles supplied by a local bike shop—The Route—are going to be in front of the University Center.

Participants can sign up at www.buildingtomorrow.org/btu/uwrf. Registration of $10 can either be paid online or in person. Time slots are 30 minutes apiece.

The Route shop owner Adam Schmidt said he is excited to sponsor events.

“Being involved with the campus and international events and support is all part of being part of a community,” Schmidt said in an e-mail interview. “My family lives in River Falls and enjoys many of the events that the campus puts on and supports; this is a small way to give back to that organization.”

The first 50 participants will receive a Trek water bottle. The details for a raffle are yet to be announced. Kinetic Trainers is also assisting with the event.
For $3, individuals can buy a paper brick to support the cause in a smaller way.

“With their purchase of $3 [individuals] will be able to write their name on a paper brick and then we will hang them up in the front window of the University Center for the entire campus to see,” Hurkman said in an e-mail interview.

Building Tomorrow’s main goal is to build schools for children in Uganda.

Over 1 million children in Uganda, between the ages of 6-12, are not in school, according to Building Tomorrow’s Web site.

UWRF is one of five university chapters—known as “donor communities” on the Building Tomorrow Web site—that has planned to host Bike to Uganda.
Hurkman said she has high hopes that Building Tomorrow and Bike to Uganda can raise $4,500 because the event is unique.

“The visual effect of actual biking will have an impact on the student population,” she said. “To see that those who take the initiative can make a difference internationally, going above and beyond just serving the River Falls community.”