A Calgary native is coming to Medstead Saturday to help raise money for those less fortunate.
Years ago, 13-year-old Alex Weber learned about people in other countries that don’t have access to clean drinking water and took it upon himself to make a difference.
“When I was nine I found out that 4,500 people die everyday from water related diseases just because they don’t have access to clean water,” Weber said. “That really bothered me and I wanted to do something to help them so I started Wheels for Wells and it’s grown world wide.”
After doing rides in Calgary the first two years, Wheels for Wells is growing at an exponential rate.
“Last year we had Calgary, Brooks and Dubai,” Weber said. “This year we have Calgary, Brooks, Medstead, Taiwan and Tanzania. We have people all over the place wanting to organize their own rides, so hopefully next year we’ll have some in the Maritimes. We have a five-day ride through Tanzania next February.”
Weber’s cousin, Marti-Beth McNabb, lives in Medstead and wanted to organize a ride there, which Weber happily obliged.
Over the past few years, Weber’s initiative has raised an impressive amount of money.
“We’ve raised over $100,000 and with that we’ve been able to drill four wells,” he said. “Those wells have brought clean water to over 48,000 people in Africa.”
Stacy Hill, a teacher in Medstead, says it was the students at the school who wanted to help out by bringing Wheels for Wells to their town.
“Last year I was selected as a teacher to go to Africa,” she explained. “While I was presenting that information to my grade one and two classes, we were looking at pictures from the country and we started talking about the water well. It was after that where one of my grade two students came back and said she had an idea and was hoping that we could do Wheels for Wells here.”
With the small size of Medstead, Hill said she kept her expectations low on how many riders they might have.
“We were thinking if we got 20 riders we would be happy,” she said.
But the response has been far greater than that.
“We have 60 riders in Medstead, which is amazing,” Weber said. “The riders fundraise and we also have sponsors who donate. All the money goes straight to World Vision and they drill the wells.”
Weber has a dollar figure in mind for both this weekend’s event and the 2015 year.
“I think it would be awesome if we got $1,000 in Medstead,” he said. “My goal for all the rides is $50,000.”
As of Wednesday morning they’ve raised nearly 10 per cent of that goal.
There are three different routes riders can sign up for.
“We have the 10 kilometre route which is for a lot of the smaller kids and goes around our community,” said Hill. “Then there’s the 30 kilometre route that will go down to the village of Glenbush, down the highway and back again. There’s a 50 kilometre route too, but we only had one student sign up for that one.”
If you’re interested in taking part, riders can still sign up for the event until Saturday morning.
Next year, Weber will have the opportunity to visit one of the wells his hard work has created.
“After the five-day ride through Tanzania in February next year, we’re going to visit one of the projects we’ve created in Kenya,” he said.
Surely he’ll receive a hero’s welcome.
If you want to donate to Weber’s cause, you can visit his website at www.wheelsforwells.com and click on the donate tab.