A senior and graduate of Corban University in Salem, Ore., have big plans this summer as they prepare to bike across the United States to raise thousands of dollars for children in poverty in Guatemala through Compassion International, the world's largest Christian child development and sponsorship organization.
The goal of Jason Hardrath, who just graduated last month, and Travis Hilley, who will be a senior next year, is to raise $10,000. The bulk of the funds will go to Compassion’s Water of Life system, a portable, efficient and long-lasting system that efficiently and inexpensively provides clean water to poor families who need it the most. The first $2,000, however, will go to Compassion’s child development center in Guatemala where Hilley’s sponsored child, Ester, attends.
Travis, who was recently married, will also be accompanied by his wife Alissa on the trip.
“Plenty of clean, potable water will be essential as the three of us do this bike ride across the U.S.” said Travis Hilley. “While it’s easy to get clean water here in the U.S., it’s not so easy in many places around the world such as Guatemala. This bike ride is about raising an awareness to this basic need of clean water.”
In many parts of the developing world where Compassion serves, children die every day from preventable illnesses like diarrhea, which they get from drinking unclean water. In fact, nearly one in five child deaths – about 1.5 million each year – is due to diarrhea. It kills more young children than AIDS, malaria and measles combined.
Although the bike ride doesn’t begin until tomorrow, they have already met their goal of $2,000 for the child development center and have acquired funds for eight water systems.
The water systems use the same concept as kidney dialysis. Weighing less than two pounds, the filters remove 99.99% of all bacteria from water poured into a bucket. The system costs $55.
Starting in Ocean Shores, Wash., Hardrath and Hilley will ride over 3,400 miles through 12 states ending at Liberty Island, NY. They will also travel through and be stopping at various towns and cities in Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Some of their stops will include the homes of various advocates of Compassion International, sharing stories of their adventure. The trip will take 45 days as they plan to cover 70-90 miles per day.
While riding for Compassion International, they will also be riding under the name Bike America Mission. Hardrath, the organization’s president, developed the idea as a wonderful way to raise funds for a great cause while also working in some good exercise.
“I get a lot of joy from pushing myself physically and playing hard,” said Hardrath. “During a game of Ultimate Frisbee, I thought, ‘Why not raise funds for a great cause while burning a serious amount of calories?’ Bike America Mission was born.”
“Nearly one billion people go without drinkable water,” said Mark Hanlon, senior vice president, USA, of Compassion International. “The dedication of Jason, Travis and Alissa is a wonderful example of the passion and spirit of the more than 700,000 Compassion sponsors across America. We wholeheartedly thank them for their commitment to releasing children from poverty around the world.”
Compassion International is the world’s largest Christian child development organization that permanently releases children from poverty. Founded in 1952, Compassion successfully tackles global poverty one child at a time, serving more than 1.2 million children in 26 of the world’s poorest countries. Recognizing that poverty is more than a lack of money, Compassion works through local churches to holistically address the individual physical, economic, educational and spiritual needs of children - enabling them to thrive, not just survive. Compassion has been awarded ten consecutive, four-star ratings by Charity Navigator, America’s largest charity evaluator.