Cycling for Education: Team Sends African Students to College

05/12/14

What happens when four engineers, a writer, a teacher, a nonprofit worker, and a minister go on a six-day cycling trip? This isn’t the start of a bad joke! These intrepid cyclists toured Northern Ireland’s countryside with the goal of sending three African children to university. The trip turned out to be a ‘wheel’ success! The team has already raised money above and beyond their goal.

 
The team began and ended their tour at a local university many of them attended
The team began and ended their tour at a local university many of them attended. Through this trip, the team hoped to raise enough funds to send three African students to university.
 
The team agrees that cycling was the perfect way to raise awareness and funds. “A tour of Ulster meant we could meet with lots of different groups in lots of different places, but none of us fancied walking it,” says Mark Drennan, COTN’s Sierra Leone liaison and cyclist extraordinaire. 
 
It was Mark’s experience with the children in Sierra Leone that inspired his family and friends to dream up The University Cycle marathon. “Once I heard about the great work Mark and COTN were doing, I couldn’t really say no,” says Graeme Young, a teacher who joined the trip. “I have been really fortunate in the support I have had throughout my education—this is just a small way I can try to let others have a similar kind of support.”
 
“I enjoyed all the feelings imaginable throughout the week: sick, tired, exhaust
“I enjoyed all the feelings imaginable throughout the week: sick, tired, exhausted, elated, depressed, inspired, determined,” says Stuart Drennan (right).
 
As the team pushed hard to cover miles and ignore their sore muscles, they stayed focused on the goal—giving children the opportunity to get a university education. “In the areas where we work, a university education is a giant leap forward,” says Mark. “Young people like Innocent from Malawi who was once abandoned, an orphan child, but who became part of COTN’s family, is now studying medicine.”
 
Innocent was an eleven-year-old orphan living under an oxcart before COTN found
Innocent was an eleven-year-old orphan living under an oxcart before COTN found him. Today, he is studying to become a doctor.
 
As the team shared stories about students like Innocent, they inspired many people along their route, including a shop owner who spontaneously gave them a donation while they took a short break from cycling.
 
I am very appreciative of the value of my education and the importance of this
“I am very appreciative of the value of my education and the importance of this in creating a rounded, self-sufficient individual,” says William Kilpatrick, cyclist and mechanical engineer. 
 
Although the trip is now over, the team isn’t about to stop. They’re hoping that more people in the United Kingdom and Ireland will become inspired to raise children out of poverty and hopelessness and give them the tools they need to become citizens who will transform their nations. It’s a lofty goal, but the stories about children like Innocent give them hope. 
 
“I was really touched by the work COTN does, and the difference that work makes in the lives of the children,” says Stuart Drennan, the writer on the team. He visited his brother Mark in Sierra Leone and saw children’s lives being changed. “It’s unbelievably important work that will help transform nations, and anything we can do to help, we should do.” 
 
“We did it! Three hundred and seventeen miles, all nine counties, four events"
  “We did it! Three hundred and seventeen miles, all nine counties, four events sharing our vision. What a week!”
 
 
Join the team and sponsor a student today!