Most weeks, Lee Daugherty wakes up and heads to Johns Hopkins where she’s on faculty and conducts research on disaster planning. But next week, her days will be spent a little differently. Daugherty, along with 10 teammates, will be riding all the way across the state of Maryland — a total of 365 miles — to raise money for charity projects in Malawi and Cambodia. “We’re willing to do something a little crazy,” Daugherty says. “Because that’s how important it is.”
Women Who STAND/Baltimore, an advocacy group that raises funds for the Baltimore-based World Relief, was founded last year when a group of Baltimore women learned about a cross-country ride that raised money for projects in the Congo. That ride, which originated in Oregon and ended up in Baltimore, happened to be all men. “We thought, hey, we want to do this,” Daugherty remembers.
“This” involved gathering a group of women from diverse backgrounds and gearing up for an intense, cross-state ride… not to mention raising $25,000 for World Relief projects. In Cambodia, the money will help provide families with seedlings for the moringa tree, the so-called “miracle tree” that provides both nutrition and income; in Malawi, the funds will pay school fees for children who’ve been orphaned by HIV/AIDS, and who wouldn’t otherwise be able to attend secondary school. The organization also “equips church leaders to teach Biblically based HIV/AIDS prevention methods like abstinence and fidelity,” according to its website.
Rather than just raising funds in a traditional manner, Daugherty thinks that the bike ride helps demonstrate the group’s commitment to raising awareness; they’re clearly in it for the long haul. And now, after nearly a year of organizing, planning, fund-raising and training, the group heads out to western Maryland on Tuesday. The team of women, who range in age from their 20s to their 50s, will ride between 45 and 100 miles over the course of five days. They’ll be traveling with a support team who will provide snacks, water, and encouragement. “It’s like, okay, deep breath, let’s do this,” Daugherty says. “We have a healthy fear of the mountains, and we’re all relieved that it’s a ride and not a race.”
If all goes according to plan, the women should reach their Baltimore finish line by mid-afternoon on Sunday, September 23. All are welcome to cheer them on at their welcome home party in Fort McHenry Park at 3 p.m.
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