Miltona man to bike across U.S.This summer will not find Seth Willard of Miltona in the small town where he grew up, but bicycling though many other communities as he makes his way from Los Angeles to Baltimore.
This summer will not find Seth Willard of Miltona in the small town where he grew up, but bicycling though many other communities as he makes his way from Los Angeles to Baltimore.
Willard, 21, is the son of Lloyd and Tanya Willard of Miltona. He will be biking coast-to-coast as part of the Ride: Well Tour, an epic journey intended to raise support and awareness for Blood: Water Mission.
The Ride: Well Tour will take place from June 11 through August 10. The team of nearly 20 will spend 45 days riding as much as 113 miles per day in order to cover 3,172 miles in just two short months.
The remaining 15 days will be spent at benefit events and fundraising drives, as the team attempts to raise $202,000 for Blood: Water Mission.
This organization helps under-developed communities in Africa build clean-water wells, latrines, and health clinics.
“Here in the lakes area, we have such an abundance of water to enjoy,” said Willard. “With the turn of a faucet we can drink, bathe, or wash our car. We can even head to a lake for our favorite water sports. Here, clean water is everywhere. In Africa, it’s not.”
The goal of the Ride: Well Tour is to remove that difference. In fact, the name “Ride: Well” is derived from the process of riding for wells.
By partnering with local donors, Willard is enabled to take the trek across the country. Along the way, additional funds will be collected, all of which will go to well-building efforts.
“We ride, and wells are funded,” Willard explained. “It’s as simple as that.”
Blood: Water Mission launched the 1000 Wells Project in 2004 to raise money to provide clean water and sanitation to 1,000 communities in sub-Saharan Africa.
By weighing the average cost of a well against the number of people benefiting from it, the organization estimates that just $1 provides one African with clean water for an entire year.
Since its launch, Blood: Water Mission has partnered with 617 communities in Africa, providing life-saving water and health needs for almost 500,000 people. Along the way, the 1,000 Wells Project has expanded to include sanitation and hygiene training.
“The cool thing is that Blood: Water doesn’t just bring a team of foreigners into Africa to build wells and then leave,” said Willard. “Rather, they give village residents the tools and resources to build the wells themselves. In the process, they teach them healthy sanitation habits, and this knowledge rapidly spreads to the rest of the village.”
To curb the spread of disease, Blood: Water Mission provides funding to health clinics, community health workers, and support groups, which help in the prevention, treatment, care, and support of communities affected by AIDS.
The results of these efforts paint a new picture in the communities that need help the most:
•Village leaders gain the resources and training to bring clean water, sanitation and healthcare into their communities.
•Stomach aches, skin diseases, and diarrhea disappear.
•Women and children no longer walk several miles a day to carry filthy water.
•Those with HIV are living longer, stronger lives.
“The devastation in Africa is of global concern,” said Willard. “But the solution is personal and that’s why I’m so excited. Often I hear about poverty and think, what can I do? The situation seems hopeless, too far removed from the healthy lifestyle I enjoy.”
In the Ride: Well Tour, Willard found something he could do.
“Biking across America will actually improve the lives of our African brothers and sisters,” he emphasized. “All the money we raise will go directly to clean water and sanitation projects.”
Last year, the team raised $201,000, and Willard hopes to beat that number this year.
“I am relying on the people of this community to forgo a few soft drinks and donate the money to this worthy cause,” said Willard. “Ten dollars. If even 200 people can give up $10, it would have a significant impact.”
He needs to raise $5,000 by May 30 in order to take the trek.
Though Willard acknowledged that the Ride: Well Tour will be the adventure of a lifetime, his motivator is not to have a good time. “It will be a pain in the butt,” he said with a smirk. “And one hot ride!”
“But I’m making a promise,” Willard added. “With every sip of water I take, I pledge to remember how blessed I am to drink the essence of purity.”
Not everyone has the access to clean water that we enjoy, Willard said. The point of the Ride: Well Tour is to change that.