The “Poggs” – Deb and Dave Poggemoeller – have become cyclists as a result of their passion to see children in Rwanda receive a quality education.
Dave and Deb first heard about Wellspring in the spring of 2008. A friend, Craig Fleischhacker, asked them to participate in acquiring building materials for the Wellspring Academy, a K-12 school being built in Kigali, Rwanda.
“We have a sawmill” (North Enderby Timber), states Dave, “so we had an ‘in’ for buying building materials. To begin with, we investigated how to obtain a sea-going container. We found a willing donor in Barry Siebenga of Big Steel Box out of Salmon Arm, who gave us a forty-foot container! We had a lot of fun going out and talking to people, asking if they would support us. Nearly everyone we approached said they would love to put something into the container that would help the people of Rwanda accomplish building the school.”
In the fall, after the container doors were closed and it left their property, the Poggemoellers started talking about taking their three children on an adventure. The plan was to go to Rwanda, hopefully meet the container on its arrival into the country, help unload it and perhaps do some work on the school site itself. “We wanted to see the project first hand and try and discover what other needs they might have and what use we could be,” explains Dave. Unfortunately, they were not able to greet the container but they stayed on the school site, spent time with children in their classrooms, did some touring and fell in love with the country and its people.
After returning from Rwanda, Dave and Deb have been involved in helping raise over $300,000 for the school building project (read about Raising the Roof!) and Wellspring’s Teacher Training program that is run in 41 public schools in Kigali, impacting more than 50,000 children.
“Since having visited Rwanda, we know we want to continue supporting the people of Rwanda in some way or another. Although we are worlds apart, they are still our neighbours and what we can do here can certainly help them there,” explains Dave. “We want to be a part of finishing the school and supporting the public teacher training so kids can learn to not only make good decisions in life, but to build on what they have to make a better future for themselves and their country.”
One way the Poggemoellers have chosen to continue to be involved is through the Lake2Lake bike ride. “The first year we were volunteers along the route and we were impressed with how well run the event was and by the enthusiasm of both riders and volunteers,” says Dave. “ So, last year we bought bikes in July and began to train.” Deb adds, “At first, we thought the distance was overwhelming, so we planned to do the ride as a relay with another couple. However, once we got out riding on a regular basis our confidence grew, and by the week prior to the event, we all decided to ride the entire distance – and we all finished! If anyone would like to challenge oneself while experiencing how beautiful our area really is, meet new people and have a lot of fun, we recommend this ride. There is support along the route, so if you find you need a lift part of the way it is available. Participants range in ability from serious roadies to rank beginners like us. I have just retired from soccer and have taken up cycling in its place. It is great for maintaining fitness and is a little easier on the knees!”
“Soccer is a natural complementary sport for cycling”, says Dave. “We come from the soccer community and we now cycle with a few older soccer players.”
Dave and Deb extend an invitation to everyone but issue a specific challenge to their soccer colleagues: “Join us on this year’s Lake2Lake Ride for Rwanda – have fun and raise funds for a terrific cause!” On the September 29+30 weekend they will join other cyclists for our third annual Lake2Lake Ride for Rwanda—a two-day, 220km, fully supported event from Kalamalka Lake to Eagle Bay on Shuswap Lake and back.
Would you like to be a part of this year’s Lake2Lake Ride for Rwanda?
Registration is open for Lake2Lake, register now. Riders can also register to fundraise for Wellspring by collecting pledges to complete the 220km journey. Raise $500 and receive a vibrant Team Wellspring cycling jersey (only available to fundraising riders). Raise $1200 and receive the Team Wellspring jersey plus have the ride fee covered (ride fee includes overnight accommodations).