Left to right: Richard Blaschek

Riding for clean water

Four friends from Mission, Abbotsford and Quebec are cycling across Canada to help raise money for water wells in Africa

A quartet of friends is combining a few milestones into one upcoming event.

Mike Woodard, Rob Montgomery, Timo Itkonen, and Richard Blaschek will dip their toes into the Pacific Ocean at Beacon Hill Park in Victoria on July 1, and plan to repeat that action in the Atlantic 54 days later in St. John’s, Newfoundland. The event is called Cycling4Water.

Montgomery, who resides in Quebec, and Abbotsford’s Woodard had talked years earlier about riding across the country to celebrate turning 60 years old, but decided that “it shouldn’t just be a recreational ride,” said Woodard, “so we started looking for a cause.”

Woodard and Montgomery will both turn 60 during the ride, while Mission’s Itkonen will celebrate his 63rd birthday. Blaschek is also from Mission, and Woodard said is called “The Kid,” is 50.

They decided they wanted to bring awareness to the Global Aid Network’s (GAiN) efforts to help build 60 deep-water wells in Africa, giving 60,000 villagers disease-free water.

“I feel we’ve lived such fortunate lives simply because we have clean water,” said Woodard, adding that in Africa, the World Health Organization calculates one child dies every 21 seconds from a water-related disease.

The group is trying to raise $510,000 (each well costs $8,500) through social media and partnerships with local organizations. To date, they have raised just over $53,000, with 13 wells pledged.

The men are also sourcing funding to help with the estimated $12,000 to $15,000 the voyage will cost. So far, Abbotsford’s Fraserway RV has donated a support vehicle, and Columbia Cabinets is sponsoring the ride by paying to wrap the RV in signage. The company is also encouraging its member network across the country to support however they can.

The Cycling4Water team is also looking for help from individuals in the form of donations, riding alongside the team, hosting the riders in their local communities and sharing this cause with others.

For more information visit cycling4water.ca, follow cycling4water on Twitter, or find the group on Facebook.

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