So a woman named Leah Missbach Day is a photographer who wanted to help after the disastrous tsunami in Sri Lanka in 2005. She and her husband, F.K. Day, the founder of the cycling corporation SRAM, decided to create a nonprofit named World Bicycle Relief to provide bikes to those in need as a result of the tsunami. Leah photographed their stories.
They now provides bicycles to people in need around the world — to go to school without getting raped, to access healthcare, and to bring goods to market. Serious, lifesaving stuff. Here — take a peek:
The bikes, called Buffalo bikes, are specifically designed to endure the harsh conditions of the environments in which they are used.
World Bicycle Relief doesn’t stop there. The organization trains local people as mechanics to service these bikes so that they are kept running not just for years but for generations, and it also sells the bikes through its social enterprise to national government organizations (NGOS) for use in their outreach programs as well.
What does any of that have to do with Alex Gee? Hang tight.
So . . . a boy named Alex Gee grows up in Chicago the son of a mother who heads up a food pantry and a father who loves to ride road bikes with him. He eventually goes to college and majors in Mandarin Chinese and minors in entrepreneurship. F. K. Day comes in one day and talks about World Bicycle Relief to Alex’s class, and Alex falls in love with everything about the organization.
Headquartered in Chicago, World Bicycle Relief becomes Alex’s volunteer passion. He zips there on his fixie, hangs it on the bike rack over his desk, and does anything and everything that needs doing for like two years while finishing school, and afterwards. His friends take jobs making six figures, but Alex persists in his commitment. He has found his calling.
He is finally hired as the Marketing and Fundraising Associate at World Bicycle Relief, and his passion is infectious. In fact, one of the very nicest and inspiring conversations I’ve had as Metro Atlanta Bicycle Mayor has been with Alex Gee.
As Alex shared with me,
“It’s not just important — it’s imperative— for companies and individuals to address the inequities and injustices in the world as it relates to women and girls.”
If you have a moment (or perhaps a week), the World Bicycle Relief website will absolutely consume you. As someone who was supposed to be in Peace Corps Uganda right now working with women and girls riding bikes as my secondary project (after my agribusiness responsibilities) (delayed due to COVID-19), this all hits home for me.
In fact, after surviving a hit-and-run while riding my bike in the place I call home this past summer, I’ve been wanting to donate to an organization doing something like this. (In fact, I had contacted Leah about an interview for the “You Go, Girl!” series but we didn’t get a chance to connect.)
Turns out I wasn’t meant to talk with Leah. I was meant to talk with Alex Gee (trust the journey, right?). And after talking with him, it is my great pleasure and honor to donate to World Bicycle Relief. I invite you to join me.
$147 buys a bicycle that changes a life.
If you can, please donate here.
Thank you for your support. 100% of proceeds from the sale of my book, Traveling at the Speed of Bike, as well as my original-art Artsy Bike Face Mask, are used to help more women and girls ride bikes.
Also, there’s a bib! You can order it here. See an adorable baby modeling it here. (Reminder: Kids don’t wait. They grow up. You can’t “feel like a kid again” when you ride a bike for the rest of your life . . . if you didn’t ride a bike as a kid. The time for change is now.)
* See more books about bike riding and its diverse issues and opportunities at Bike Books (the only book shop in the world carefully curated to feature only books about bike riding).