Monday, August 20 , 2018, 6:28 am | Fair 64º

 
 
 
 

Santa Barbara Middle School Rides for Rwanda

To help reverse the effects of a brutal cycle of genocide, students turn to bicycles to make a positive change.

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More than 100 people turned out Saturday for Santa Barbara Middle School‘s second annual Ride4Rwanda, a nine-mile bicycle ride through Santa Barbara and Goleta.

The fund-raising event, organized Jacob Seigel-Boettner, a Santa Barbara Middle School alumnus who is now a student at UC Berkeley, also is intended to raise awareness of Rwanda’s horrific genocide and the lengths to which Rwandans are going in an attempt to rebuild their lives and restore their communities.

For years, Santa Barbara Middle School, 2300 A Garden St., has used bike riding in its outdoor education programs to explore the environment, build confidence and expand learning outside the classroom. Outreach to Rwanda was a natural extension for the school because of the important role bicycles play there. Coffee farmers depend on bikes to get to work and to transport coffee beans. To Rwandans, a bicycle is a tool that can help revitalize a nation torn apart by a brutal genocide.{mosimage}

“At Santa Barbara Middle School I learned how much bikes can change lives," Seigel-Boettner said. "In Rwanda, a bike is a tool for survival, and we have the power to make a difference in that recovering country.”

The inaugural Ride4 Rwanda raised about $4,000.

“This year I hope to double the turnout and raise $8,000 in order to build a support structure in Rwanda that provides tools, parts and repair services to Rwandan civilians,” said Seigel-Boettner, who added that another objective was to earn funding to buy more than 200 bicycles in Rwanda.

Students, parents, faculty and friends turned out for Saturday’s ride, which included legendary mountain biker Tom Ritchey, who particpated along with former Santa Barbara City Councilman Dan Secord.

"I wish I had gone to a school like Santa Barbara Middle School when I was your age to be so instilled with
passion and purpose so early in life," Ritchey said. "I am very happy to be here and help them help the people of Rwanda."

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