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Students to bike 7,657 miles

Madeline Buckley | Friday, April 11, 2008

Students will collectively attempt to pedal the 7,657 miles between South Bend and Uganda today in order to raise money to build a Ugandan elementary school.

A joint effort of the ND-8 organization and Building Together charity, Bike to Uganda is the final fundraising event that will contribute to the construction of the school.

In the past, the group held a brick sale, a T-shirt sale and a Christmas tree ornament sale.

“Our goal is to raise $35,000,” said Erin Jelm, ND-8 officer and Bike to Uganda organizer. “We are about $7,500 short, and we hope to raise that from the bikers,” she said.

The fundraising event will take place on Fieldhouse Mall from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. today.

“Rolfs lent 5 stationary bikes to the cause, and we have been recruiting teams of 3-5 people from dorms and different clubs and departments,” Jelm said.

The fundraising project began with the organization Building Tomorrow, headquartered in Indianapolis, Ind., but currently located on several U.S. college campuses in an effort to encourage University students to raise money for Ugandan schools.

“In the area of Uganda alone, there are 330,000 children with little access to education,” Jelm said.

ND-8, a student group focused on working for the eight goals outlined by the U.N. Millennium project, joined forces with Building Tomorrow to enable 350 Ugandan children to receive an education, she said.

“We have been working on Building Tomorrow all year. It is our number one effort,” Jelm said.

“[Building the school] is a sustainable project. We are close to our goal, but we need people to help us push that last $7,500 so that these kids will be in school when we are in the fall,” Jelm said. “75 percent of the funds will come from us, and the remaining 25 percent will come from the [Ugandan] community.”

After the school is completed, the Ugandan government promises to sustain the school by paying the teachers and providing a daily meal for the students, she said.

“The kids need a meal every day because many of the families are strapped and can’t afford food” Jelm said.

The teams, who have been fundraising ahead of time, asking friends and family for donations, “will challenge each other to race and bike more miles,” she said.

Each team member will bike for 15 minutes and record the mileage. The miles will then be multiplied by 10, meaning one mile biked actually equals 10 miles for the team, and then the total mileage will be added up. Additionally, for every one dollar the team donates, they receive 15 miles. The team with the most miles at the end of the day wins.

All of the miles are then added up with the goal that Notre Dame completes 7,657 “miles.”

“Hopefully we will reach Uganda,” Jelm said. “About a dozen teams are registered, but people can just show up at the event, donate $5 and bike for 10 minutes,” she said.

Jelm said almost all of the money raised during the event will go towards the building the school.

“The Africana Studies club donated power bars and water for the bikers, and since Rolf’s is loaning the bikes, we have put out very little money,” she said.