Organizations pedaling hope for devastated communities

08/31/2011
By

The Three Amigos, from left to right: Mark McBennett, Lowell Sheppard, Tony Torres Photo Credit: JC2C


TOKYO (majirox news) — Millions of cyclists ride their bikes every day in Japan to go to work, school, shopping, exploring or for pleasure.

However, another group of riders will soon take to the streets, participating in a 300-kilometer (180-mile) ride Sept. 19 to Sept. 22 to raise money for communities devastated by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. Japan Coast to Coast (JC2C) is organizing the Tohoku Challenge and Festival in partnership with HOPE International Development Agency, Japan (HOPE-JP).

JC2C will use the money raised from participants in the ride to help Tohoku communities in their recovery efforts and for clean water projects on the horn of Africa. Lowell Sheppard, Mark McBennette and Tony Torres, who are called the Three Amigos of JC2C, organized the event.

“Our goal with the Cycling Challenge is to raise funds that can help Tohoku communities as well as overseas communities become self-sufficient,” said Sheppard, a founding member of the organization.

The bikers will start in the west coast city of Niigata and make their way to the east coast city of Matsushima in Miyagi prefecture. After spending the night there, they will attend the first Annual Tohoku Cycling Festival on Ojika Peninsula for the next two days. Ojika was one of many fishing communities devastated by the tsunami.

“With the festival, we aim to highlight Ojika and the surrounding areas as perfect cycling tourism destinations,” Sheppard told Majirox News. “Bringing back tourists will help the communities become self-sufficient again.”

In a JC2C press release on August 24, longtime Ojika resident and dairy farmer Abe said, “I think the festival is good for the local young people. Young people need to interact with outsiders and foreigners.”

JC2C is a not-for-profit enterprise that aims to promote cycling in Japan and various regions as tourist destinations. They have a particular focus on the Tohoku region to alert the world to its beauty and the need to help the region recover from the deadly disasters.

HOPE-JP is a confederation of nine independent organizations working together along with local partners throughout the world to make poverty a part of history. Since 1975, HOPE-JP has been extending compassion to the world’s poorest to create a sustainable solution to poverty and a world where people have healthy lives and futures.

More information on the ride and festival at http://www.japanc2c.com/current-events/tohoku-coast-to-coast-challenge/ and http://www.japanc2c.com/current-events/1st-annual-tohoku-cycling-festival/

Joe@majiroxnews.com

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