Kids ride high on free bikes

The Wellingtonian - - Front Page - RUBY MACANDREW

The man be­hind a cam­paign to re­duce the num­ber of bikes stolen in cen­tral Welling­ton has taken on a new project – pro­vid­ing bikes to in-need chil­dren in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries.

Da­vide Conti, a doc­tor at Welling­ton Hos­pi­tal, has just re­turned from Gu­atemala where he was dis­tribut­ing bikes through the Wheels 4 Life char­ity, af­ter stum­bling upon the char­ity on­line.

‘‘I con­tacted the founder [Hans Rey] who is quite a fa­mous moun­tain biker from Ger­many, and went from there.’’

Rey founded Wheels 4 Life more than a decade ago with the aim of pro­vid­ing bi­cy­cles to peo­ple in third-world coun­tries in need of trans­porta­tion.

In­spired by the char­ity’s mis­sion, Conti spent six-months fundrais­ing in Welling­ton, col­lect­ing money at moun­tain bik­ing events as well as crowd­fund­ing on­line.

‘‘The moun­tain bik­ing com­mu­nity here was re­ally great and sup­port­ive and I was able to raise about $2000 – enough to buy 10 bikes.

‘‘We were lucky that a lo­cal bike shop in Gu­atemala, Cy­cle­works, kindly agreed to give us the bikes for the dis­tri­bu­tion price.’’

Conti’s con­tri­bu­tion com­bined with ad­di­tional money raised by the char­ity al­lowed for a to­tal of 50 bikes to be given out to chil­dren aged be­tween 6 and 14-years-old.

The vol­un­teer-run school is in the An­tigua area in south­ern Gu­atemala with the ma­jor­ity of its teach­ers from over­seas.

‘‘They cater to kids whose fam­i­lies are too poor to send them to school so they get all their books and all that for free,’’ Conti said.

‘‘The prob­lem is that a lot of the kids live on farms which are quite far from the school and there are not many trans­port op­tions to get them there so that’s where the bi­cy­cles come in.’’

It was that fact that made the char­ity a per­fect fit for Conti with his pas­sion for cy­cling of­ten tak­ing him all around the world.

‘‘You al­ways want to help the lo­cal com­mu­nity but it’s hard just show­ing up there and not know­ing what you can do to help.

‘‘Moun­tain bik­ing is not just about peo­ple cy­cling around the city, we’re a nice com­mu­nity try­ing to help in­ter­na­tion­ally and this project al­lows us to do that.’’

Conti planned to re­peat the fundrais­ing process again next year, likely with an­other school in need.

‘‘You see how happy they are to have some ran­dom show up from New Zealand with 50 bikes. It was just beau­ti­ful.’’


NEWS DI­REC­TOR: Sharron Par­doe, 04 474 0165 or ed­i­tor@thewelling­to­ RE­PORTER: Ruby Macandrew, ruby.macandrew@fair­fax­me­, 04 474 0036, 027 248 0922. ME­DIA SALES DI­REC­TOR: Kather­ine Han­ley: kather­ine.han­ley@fair­fax­me­ CLAS­SI­FIED: 0800 252774. DE­LIV­ERY IN­QUIRIES: 474 0269. AD­DRESS: Level 7, Spark Build­ing, 42-52Wil­lis, St, Welling­ton or PO Box 3740, Welling­ton. Au­dited cir­cu­la­tion: 73,000. De­liv­ered each Thurs­day to Welling­ton’s north­ern, south­ern, east­ern and west­ern sub­urbs, and the CBD.

Wheels 4 Life was founded in 2005 with the aim of pro­vid­ing bi­cy­cles to peo­ple in Third World coun­tries in need of trans­porta­tion. Da­vide Conti, top, and the Welling­ton moun­tain bike com­mu­nity raised funds for 10 bikes for kids in Gu­atemala. PHOTO: DA­VIDE

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