Billings, MT, May 5, 2011 – Award-winning tour operator Austin-Lehman Adventures (ALA – http://www.austinlehman.com/), the active travel company setting adventure tours standards in The Americas, Europe, Africa and beyond, is honoring National Bike Month with a $200 donation to Wheels of Change, a non-profit charity, in the name of each person booking one of their dedicated biking tours during the month of May.
Wheels of Change provides donated bicycles to underprivileged African communities. Donations will help defer the cost of shipping 400 bikes, parts and tools. Through a community effort, ALA has collected the bikes and will pack them for shipment on Mothers’ Day weekend. Collection of bikes, parts and tools began shortly after last year’s spring shipment of bikes to Ngoma, a remote village in the far eastern corner of Namibia. This year’s shipment will go to Nairobi, Kenya.
Active cyclists wanting to put their trip fee toward a worthwhile cause are encouraged to book their bike vacation now. Some of ALA’s most popular biking tours in 2011 include:
>South Dakota: Black Hills to Mount Rushmore – http://www.austinadventures.com/packages/south-dakota-black-hills-mt-rushmore/
>France: Provence – http://www.austinadventures.com/packages/france-provence/
>Germany: Romantic Road – http://www.austinadventures.com/packages/germany-romantic-road/;
>Holland/Belgium: Brussels to Gent – http://www.austinadventures.com/packages/hollandbelgium-brussels-gent/
>Italy: Tuscany – http://www.austinadventures.com/packages/italy-tuscany/
>Switzerland/Germany: Lake Constance to Zurich – http://www.austinlehman.com/tours/lake-constance-to-zurich-switzerland-germany-tour-trips-74.php
Dan Austin, owner and founder of ALA, said that a bike, that can change a life in a poor country, remains financially out of reach for millions. Wheels of Change helps empower people through improved mobility and access to food and water, employment, healthcare, education and social opportunities.
For example, a healthcare worker can visit up to four times more clients by biking instead of walking; girls are 70 percent more likely to attend school if their household owns a bicycle; in 60 minutes biking can cover three times the distance of walking; a person biking can carry five times more than while walking.
“The efforts of this organization will allow us to make a positive impact on the people who need it the most,” Austin said.
The May shipment of bikes to Nairobi marks the first official initiative of the just-established nonprofit, Africa-based organization Wheels of Change founded by Michael Linke (http://www.benbikes.org.za/namibia/) and represented in Billings by Austin. Linke has helped establish 26 up and running bikes shops throughout Namibia, including the Billings-supported shop in Ngoma.
About Wheels of Change
Austin said that Wheels of Change is taking an assertive role and expanding geographically to other African countries as well as adding new programs. One initiative allows solar lights to be shipped and sold at the bike shops. Another project is helping a young Namibia woman establish a bike tour company offering guided day trips to Katutura, the township area of Windhoek.
Up to 400 bicycles can be loaded into one shipping container, along with tools and spare parts. The shipping container itself becomes a Bicycle Empowerment Centre (BEC) which in turn becomes a source of employment and revenue. A center provides refurbished bicycles free of charge to, among others, healthcare outreach volunteers and school children. Income from bike-related activities goes to assisting a sustainable business model while creating local jobs. Profits are reinvested in other community projects such as growing food for AIDS orphans, making micro loans to foster small enterprises, purchasing school uniforms, and paying school fees for disadvantaged children.
Linke, Austin and others will be launching fundraising projects in the near future to help cover some of the cost associated with establishing BEC’s and adding additional services and products.
People are invited to follow the progress on Austin-Lehman’s Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/austinlehmanadventures. May is National Bike Month: http://www.bikeleague.org/programs/bikemonth/index.php, with May 16-20 Bike to Work Week and May 20 Bike to Work Day.
About Austin-Lehman Adventures
Austin-Lehman Adventures, with a 37-year legacy, provides adventure vacations on five continents, has built an international reputation for small group active travel to destinations in North, Central and South America, Europe, the Pacific Rim and Africa. The company specializes in adult and family multi-sport, hiking, biking vacations that emphasize history, culture and nature’s charms. Trips are limited to 12 guests (18 on family departures) and feature excellent regional dining, distinctive accommodations and all-inclusive rates and services. In addition to scheduled group departures, ALA offers customized trip planning. ALA offers each traveler a money-back satisfaction guarantee.
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