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Hero MTB Himalaya: Change the world on a bicycle

poorva
CONTRIBUTOR
Feature
211   //    19 Sep 2017, 19:53 IST

Fundación Josep Carreras contra la Leucemia at the Algarve Bike Challenge in Portugal
Fundación Josep Carreras contra la Leucemia at the Algarve Bike Challenge in Portugal

Now you can turn your hobby into a life-changing endeavor and you don’t even have to be a doctor or start an NGO to make our society a better place. Just pick up your bicycle and be a part of this year’s Hero MTB Himalaya, for when you ride, the whole world benefits!

Every year, Hero MTB Himalaya witnesses enthusiastic participation from all around the globe, with participants coming from all walks of life, having diverse aspirations and their own unique definitions for the race. Perhaps the most inspiring teams are those who view this race as a means to fight for and spread awareness about a social cause, thus harnessing the power of cycling for a greater good.

For Fundación Josep Carreras contra la Leucemia, Hero MTB Himalaya isn’t just for the thrills of riding in the midst of mountains, it is much more than that. In many aspects, this race mirrors their struggle to overcome leukemia and make it 100% curable.

Seventy percent of the patients diagnosed with Leukemia cannot find a matching donor within their family. To address this issue, the foundation maintains a bone-marrow donor registry for all those in dire need of a transplant. The registry is connected to a trans-national network which has more than 26 million donors signed up at the moment.

Additionally, the foundation raises funds through collaboration from partner companies and sale of the cycling kits that showcase a message highlighting the importance of donating bone marrow. Ever since its inception in 2013, the organization has participated in all kinds of sports events such as Ironman, Madrid-Lisboa Non-Stop (España-Portugal), Titan Desert (Marruecos), Hero MTB Himalaya (India), Transcumbres (Argentina), etc. and continues to display an indispensable attitude.

Similarly, in one of the poorest countries in the world where 1 out of 3 children is an orphan, Orphans Africa (OA) of Tanzania has taken up the mantle of changing this scenario and making such orphans self-sufficient. Its MTB Team has been riding in different races around the world all these years, imparting education to more than 500 kids per year.


Orphan Africa students at the Mwaji Secondary School which is free for orphans.
Orphan Africa students at the Mwaji Secondary School which is free for orphans

The OA schools not only teach children how to raise their own livestock and farm the land, but also provide 100% cost-free health care to students and represent the highest levels of primary education in Tanzania. After successfully maintaining a dormitory for more than 120 kids, the NGO has started another one, specifically for girls, as they are more vulnerable in the region.


After successfully maintaining a dormitory for more than 120 kids, the NGO has started another one, specifically for girls, as they are more vulnerable in the region.
After successfully maintaining a dormitory for more than 120 kids, the NGO has started another one, specifically for girls

Likewise, HASTPA also strives to make a contribution that really counts. As a part of its social outreach program, Mission SMILE, riders engage in meaningful interactions with students in schools along the race route, with an aim of enlightening children about the benefits of cycling and issues related to healthcare, to promote a path to a sustainable lifestyle.

Last year, HASTPA reached out to 5000 students in 35 government schools and 22 villages in merely eight days, a truly commendable feat. This year, the organizers will be addressing the lack of quality education. The outreach program will be helping to build libraries across several schools in the state. The race is also reaching out to its riders to invite donations for books to serve the cause.


Monika Eggert, wife of Thomas Eggert, a German rider at Hero MTB Himalaya 12th Edition, distributing notebooks to the kids as a part of Mission SMILE, the social outreach program of HASTPA- Himalayan Adventure Sports and Tourism Association.
Monika Eggert, wife of Thomas Eggert, a German rider at Hero MTB Himalaya 12th Edition, distributing notebooks to the kids as a part of Mission SMILE

The race was successful in promoting benefits of healthy sanitation last year. German Photographer Stefan Wiebel, with the Rocky Mountain MTB team, which competed in the last edition of Hero MTB Himalaya, raised a charity amount with his pictures back home. The team now wants to contribute a part of this charity towards the outreach program Mission SMILE.

Did you know a 40-inch fur coat takes between 50 sables, 50 muskrats, 40 raccoons, 35 rabbits, 20 foxes, 20 otters, 18 lynx, 16 coyotes, 15 beavers, or eight seals to make? Instead of treating animals like they are living creatures with emotions and feelings, some people exploit them ruthlessly. Unfortunately, animal abuse is not isolated to any specific gender, race, or demographic. For this reason, Ilda Periera, one of Hero MTB Himalaya’s returning riders, will be riding against animal abuse. Ilda says, “Before men, this Earth belonged to animals. Fighting for those who can’t speak becomes important in a world full of greedy people driven by selfish motives.”

To sum up, the spirit of riding isn’t limited to the rush of mountain air whooshing past, or the dust swirling beneath your feet, but also spreads to a pursuit of self-discovery, which has taken the form of immersing yourself in the betterment of humanity for these teams. Such teams leave an indelible expression on the race and prove that no feat is truly indomitable.

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poorva
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