Cousins ride 1,450 miles to honor Dr. Schindler

Published 1:06 pm Friday, July 5, 2024

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By Rachel Campbell

When paying tribute to a late family member, all things are possible.

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Britta Swanson and her cousin Karina recently embarked on a three-week cycling journey through seven states and one Canadian province in the memory of their grandfather Dr. Richard Schindler. The 1,450-mile trek began in Duluth and it ended in Belmont, New Hampshire by the Atlantic Ocean.

The trip took place with the support of Britta’s mom, who followed them in a vehicle. They stayed with friends, family, and welcomed strangers along the way. The journey of Britta and Karina was not just a physical feat, but a testament to the impact of individual initiatives. 

The cousins were inspired by their late Schindler, who “loved people so fully and was a big dreamer,” said Britta. 

They set out to make a difference. 

Schindler, a family physician, tragically passed away in a bicycle accident in 2014. He had started a fundraiser with some of his friends in their 60s and 70s to support the Hormel Medical Research Center and that initiative was sparked by a desire to help a friend’s younger brother who was diagnosed with cancer. Schindler completed a cross-country cycling trip from the Atlantic to the Pacific, showcasing the impact of making a difference. 

Britta thought of her grandfather’s spirit and wanted to do something similar so she asked her cousin if she wanted to go on an adventure with her and help make a difference. They did so by becoming a part of the World Bicycle Relief. 

Britta and Karina raised about $14,000, which is the equivalent to 80 S2 Buffalo bikes. Britta and Karina directed their part of the organization to rural areas worldwide. They gave bikes to women and girls who needed them most. Britta considered being able to ride a bike as far as she did makes her feel like she had “strength and freedom.”  

In 2005, Frederick Day and his wife, Leah Missbach Day, established the World Bicycle Relief Organization (WBR) following the Indian Ocean tsunami of December 2004. After traveling to Sri Lanka, they realized that providing bicycles would be a valuable and time-efficient way to help those affected.

 Since then, WBR has grown and assisted 3.5 million people in escaping poverty by providing a more accessible and efficient means of commuting to schools, hospitals, and markets. Over 21 countries have valued the WBR and have raised $30.3 million since 2005. The Buffalo S2 bike, costing around $165 each, is designed with high-quality materials, capable of carrying heavy loads and enduring long distances in rugged terrain. This charity has significantly impacted small communities, donating over 780,000 bikes to rural areas as of April 2024. These bikes have not only improved access to education and healthcare but also empowered women and girls by giving them the freedom to travel independently. 

If you wish to donate, visit their website or contact Britta and Karina.