Crossing the continent for a cause

If you are reading this article, you are more than likely taking summer courses. That said, what will you be doing on the first of June? Sitting in a classroom, no doubt. Meanwhile, other students will be undertaking a sojourn to create a breathing monument dedicated to fight two worldwide epidemics – poverty and HIV/AIDS.

The sojourn is known as The Yes Ride: an annual bike ride spanning each coast of the United States that starts in Seattle and ends in Boston. Each rider, of which there are 50, has a minimum goal of $4,000 – for a total of $200,000 – to raise for the five beneficiaries of this event.

“The Yes Ride is created by college students who have no financial resources and no connections,” said Project Coordinator Kelley Sikes, an alumnus of Florida State University. “Our organization makes no money from creating The Yes Ride, and the event is produced in every second of our spare time. The Yes Ride will reveal that you don’t have to be middle-aged, wealthy or connected to make a difference in the world.”

One beneficiary, the Emory Vaccine Center, devotes attention to the development of vaccines for HIV/AIDS and malaria.

Another, Heifer International, provides impoverished families with livestock and seeds to “create an expanding network of hope, dignity and self-reliance that reaches around the globe.”

In doing this, Heifer hopes to reach certain areas of emphasis – those where land is overused and sickness is more common – in an effort to end poverty.

The Yes Ride’s third beneficiary, Partners in Health, provides options for the poor in many third world countries and maintains an alliance with Harvard Medical School. As lobbyists and providers, Partners in Health does whatever it takes to make sure that those in need of better health care receive it.

The International Peace Initiatives are taking each dollar raised and putting it to use in secondary education tuition in Kenya (Africa).

The organization Circles of Ten: Women for World Peace develops dialogue for women in small groups to spread throughout communities. A donation of $150 a month gets a project coordinator that supports 3,000 women in Kenya. Circles of Ten emphasizes empowering women in order to create an everlasting vision of peace that filters throughout communities around the world.

The organizers of Yes Ride, Eamon Aloyo, Chris Markl and Kelley Sikes, all share the belief that biking 4,000 miles and raising money for the beneficiaries, they are saving lives and unveiling hope upon those who need it.

“This is not just a bike ride,” said Chris Markl, from Winter Haven. “This is an event that will save lives.”

After the ride is over and the money is raised, all of the riders, beneficiaries and needy will be closer to their goals of ending poverty while supporting the creation of vaccines.

To learn more about the Yes Ride program or how to get involved, log on to