Deb and Dave Poggemoeller (the Poggs) have become cyclists as a result of their passion to see children in Rwanda receive a quality education.
This fall, they will join other cyclists for the third annual Lake2Lake Ride for Rwanda, sponsored by The Wellspring Foundation for Education.
The ride is a two-day, 220km fully supported event. Cyclists leave Dutch’s Campground in Coldstream on a route that will take them on mostly rural roads through Armstrong and Salmon Arm to Eagle Bay Camp on the shores of Shuswap Lake. After overnighting at the camp, riders return to Dutch’s via Silver Creek and O’Keefe Ranch.
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),” said 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 40-foot container.
“We had a lot of fun going out and talking to people. 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,” said 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 more than $300,000 from the Vernon area for the school building project and Wellspring’s teacher training program.
“Since visiting, 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,” said 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.
“At first, we thought the distance was overwhelming, so we planned to do the ride as a relay with another couple,” said Deb. “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 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 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.”
Riders can earn a Team Wellspring jersey or ride for free by collecting pledges in support of Wellspring. Volunteers are also needed for ride support. To register, visit www.lake2lake.org or call Shirley at 250-542-0398. For more information on Wellspring, see www.thewellspringfoundation.com.