Cycling team raises funds for devastated area
Knights in White Lycra, an international cycling team in Tokyo, will peddle their bikes 500 kilometers (310 miles) from Tokyo to Minami-sanriku in Miyagi Prefecture beginning May 20. Minami-sanriku is one of the cities devastated by the 2011 Great Tohoku Earthquake. Stripes Japan talked with KIWL co-founder Robert Williams on why the team is bicycling that far and how the military community can support the effort.
Q. What’s your organization all about?
A. Knights In White Lycra is a Tokyo-based charity cycling team of male & female expatriates and Japanese from a variety of industries, all driven by the common cause to give something back to Japan. The group is diverse in terms of both nationalities – members from Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Sri Lanka, the US and the UK – and gender, with four women joining the ride this year. There are some high-profile members including Jonathan Kushner, a Vice President at the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan as well as Julia Longbottom, Minister and Deputy Head of Mission at the British Embassy in Tokyo, and Rupert Wingfield-Hayes, the BBC TV Correspondent for Japan.
Q.Tell us about your charity ride that kicks off May 20.
A. The 2015 ride includes 27 cyclists and is the Knights in White Lycra’s third annual event having started with 10 riders cycling 330kms to Minamisoma in 2013. The ride starts on May 20th and will leave from Nihombashi Bridge in Tokyo at 7a.m to Minami-sanriku in Miyagi Prefecture, a community that was devastated by the 3/11 tsunami and earthquake. The 510km ride will take approximately three and a half days with the entire peloton hoping to cover the full distance. One or two bicycle-hardened participants are considering riding back to Tokyo too!
Q. What is your organization's goal?
A. The goal is to raise 5.5 million yen for a local non-profit called O.G.A for Aid, which to date has initiated over 40 projects in the locality to help rebuild the community. The 2015 ride aims specifically to raise funds for a project called “Place to Grow” – an after-school facility where local children can be nurtured into agriculture to remain in the region and provide income and employment. The facility will also act as a much needed respite from the cramped living conditions the children still endure. The head of OGA for Aid, Angela Ortiz, will be riding the full 510kms with the Knights.
Q. How can the military community support this charity event?
A. By visiting www.kiwl.net and http://www.ogaforaid.org/ and donating to the cause – however little, it will still make a difference to the children! Also, it would be fantastic to have the military community help spread the word about KIWL and OGA ahead of next year’s ride. Perhaps there are even a few out there who may wish to ride next year!