By Janet Bressler-Bilenky
Among our 2017 Expo exhibitors there are many interesting and inspiring stories. Triumph over adversity, career changes, innovative products and more. Team Rwanda/Team Africa Rising is unique in its mission to lift up a desperate conflict-ravaged nation and ultimately an entire continent through the power of cycling. Begun in 2006, Team Rwanda/Team Africa Rising is dedicated to recruiting, training, and competing in cycling at the highest levels and also to teaching and training the next generation of coaches and mechanics.
Team Rwanda was born through the raw talent discovered by the Rwanda Wooden Bike Classic. The first riders were childhood survivors of the 1994 Rwandan genocide- young people who had witnessed unimaginable horrors. Their homemade wooden bikes meant freedom and survival. With the real bicycles earned by membership in Team Rwanda, the passion, will, and hope of these kids was channeled into world class competition. Among other accomplishments, Team Rwanda has grown from it’s unlikely beginnings to a stage win in the 2017 Giro D’Italia.
Several documentaries have been created spotlighting the men and women of Team Rwanda/Team Africa Rising, most notably “Rising from Ashes” narrated by Forest Whittaker. There are multiple opportunities for the public to get involved- from honorary membership to African adventure rides with the team. A sure-fire way to put one’s “first-world problems” in perspective.