Santa Cruz, CA, May 16, 2011 – Young Heroes Foundation (YHF) announced today that a group of mountain bikers will ride through the mountainous region of Swaziland, Africa to raise money for their organization, which supports over 1,000 AIDS orphans in the kingdom of Swaziland.
The Swaziland Bike Challenge builds on last year’s highly successful ride, in which eight American riders bicycled border-to-border across the kingdom and raised over $100,000 for the orphans. Responding to requests to repeat the adventure this year, the organization has created Swazi Challenge II, which will take place from May 20 through June 3, 2011.
This year’s bike ride will circumnavigate Swaziland’s most beautiful area: the mountainous and fertile Hhohho region, which covers the northwestern quarter of the country. The ride will travel through national parks, rural villages and nature reserves, before ending in Swaziland’s capital, Mbabane. Led by veteran endurance rider James Cox, Swazi Challenge II will take cyclists off-road deep into the Swazi countryside to see a world that tourists never encounter and meet the generous, welcoming Swazi people.
“Swaziland offers a bittersweet combination of the most beautiful and challenging single track I’ve ridden anywhere in the world and a country full of great kids in need of help,” says Cox. ““The country is made up of little kids and grandparents, with the majority of parents dead from AIDs. The Swazi Challenge II is important way to bring both attention and financial support to these orphaned kids,” said Cox.
Founded in 2006, Young Heroes links sponsors who donate monthly stipends directly to specific families of orphans for them to use for food, clothing and other necessities.
“When we began, we were supporting 300 children,” says founder Steve Kallaugher. “Communities around the country asked if we would help their orphans as well, so we opened our registry to include 1,047 children in 582 families. We’re delighted to announce that we’ve now secured sponsorship for our 1000 th child, so we can now register more families and begin to try to help them.”
In addition to providing stipends for basic necessities, Young Heroes also runs a highly regarded HIV testing and care program for the children. In partnership with Baylor College of Medicine’s Center of Excellence and Population Services International (PSI), the project offers HIV/AIDS education; testing for children and their caretakers; male circumcision; and ongoing monthly medical care and support groups for children who test HIV-positive, all free of charge. In conjunction with Newman’s Own Foundation’s Hole in the Wall Camps and other partners, Young Heroes also runs weeklong camps for HIV-positive children twice a year.
Kallaugher says, “Now that we have food, health care and education programs in place, we have two major challenges. The first is to expand so that we can help many more children. The second is begin a skills-training and microfinance project for those who age out of our program when they turn 19. That’s one reason we’ve created Swazi Challenge.”
In addition to participating in the ride, participants are asked to raise $10,000 for Young Heroes via pledges, with 100 percent of all funds raised go directly to the orphans. This year, Nell Newman, through her private foundation, The Nell Newman Foundation, has pledged $20,000 towards Swazi Challenge II.
“It’s a great and urgent need,” says Nell, “and feeding kids is such a tangible goal which Young Hero’s has successfully executed. Unlike many challenges in Africa, this is one that is focused and effective – giving these kids a boost and keeping them on the land where they were born – not sent off to orphanages. It only takes $240 per year to feed a kid. That’s not very much for such a big impact”.
ABOUT YOUNG HEROES
Young Heroes Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation headquartered in Leeds, Massachusetts. Now entering its fifth year, Steve Kallaugher created it while serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Swaziland in conjunction with the country’s National Emergency Response Council on HIV/AIDS (NERCHA).
Source: Julie Atherton, JAM Media Collective