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Teachers, Students Break a Sweat for Charity

Naperville Central High School students are raising money in order to donate new bicycles to Africa, while two teachers match every dollar by biking a mile.

Feet pedaled and wheels spun at on Friday, and the goal behind every small rotation was to make a big impact 8,000 miles away.

Academic coordinator Marc O’Shea and physical eduction teacher Neil Duncan broke a sweat as they rode nearly 100 miles combined before noon on stationary bicycles in the school’s lobby, with many more miles to go. All week they will be riding one mile per every dollar donated by students who are trying to raise money to send bicycles to Zambia, Africa.

It’s all part of a charity event organized by students as well as Duncan and O’Shea who have teamed up with the World Bicycle Relief program.

The Chicago-based organization helps communities in Africa gain independence and live more efficiently by providing them with brand new bicycles.

“Over in Africa the bike is an unbelievably huge tool,” O’Shea said. “It opens up opportunities; you get into school, you get medicine and it makes the world much bigger for you.”

These bicycles provide a sustainable and reliable mode of transportation for individuals living in countries like Kenya, South Sudan and Zambia.

O’Shea said they hope to raise enough to send about 10 to 15 bicycles, which cost $134 each.

By the time early Friday morning rolled around, students donated more than $700. As passing period began students dropped more donations into two plastic containers as they cheered on their teachers.

One student even volunteered to get on a bike herself and ended up riding 16 miles.

“When my gym teacher told me about it I said it sounded like something I really wanted to do,” said junior Zoe Elbing. “I think it’s a really great cause and it’s awesome that our student body got to choose it and was really proactive in getting all this organized.”

The event ties-in with curriculum in the Learning Readiness Physical Education (LRPE) program, which links learning and exercise. Students have been spinning on bikes and studying the story of champion bicyclist, Marshall “Major” Taylor.

It will culminate on March 14 when the World Bicycle Relief co-founder visits the school to talk about the power of bike and enterprise. Plans also call for a Skype chat with ultracyclist and Chicagoan Bryce Walsh who is a World Bicycle Relief athlete riding through Africa in the Tour d’ Afrique in Tanzania.

In the meantime, O’Shea and Duncan will keep trekking as donations keep coming in. But, luckily, both teachers are no strangers to endurance and fitness.

“Neil Duncan is an Iron Man finisher and I’m an avid racing cyclist,” O’Shea said. “So we cycle a lot anyway, so we’re comfortable enough with doing about 100 miles a week and the kids knew that too, so that was part of the challenge.”

Donations can be made at the main lobby of Naperville Central High School today through March 14.

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