‘Bike to Uganda’ in the Pit to build schools

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Senior Sheila Gaynor and Freshman Liam Gaynor, left to right, ride bikes in the pit for the third annual Bike to Uganda.

Students started the more than 7,000-mile bike ride to Uganda on Monday.

In the same week as Uganda’s 50th anniversary of independence from British rule, the third annual Bike to Uganda event kicked off.

Bike to Uganda is Building Tomorrow’s main fundraiser of the year, where students and faculty come together to bike the distance to Uganda on stationary bikes to raise money to build a new primary school there.

Twelve bikes will be set up in the Pit through Friday and participants can sign up for 30-minute shifts between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m.

Registration is $5 and T-shirts or tank tops can be purchased for $10. All proceeds go toward funding the new school.

Performances by various a cappella and dance groups will be held throughout the week to entertain the bikers.

Senior Erin Owenby, director of the UNC chapter of Building Tomorrow, said when the event was first held in 2010, more than 800 people participated.

But this year, the event has the capacity for 1,320 bikers, and organizers hope to fill all the spots, she said.

Owenby said Bike to Uganda aims to promote awareness about the need for schools in East Africa and raise the necessary funds to build those schools.

Senior Julia Heelan said it took two years to raise the $45,000 to build the group’s first primary school in Kidula, Uganda.

The project will cost $60,000 to build this time, but members hope to raise all the money by May.

“We raise the money here, and then we have a couple of people over in Uganda that we correspond with, so they help us figure out where the school is going to be built,” Heelan said.

“And then the community or someone donates land, which is a big deal, and then the surrounding community helps to build the school,” she said.

Heelan said the Ugandan government has a partnership with Building Tomorrow in which they provide the teachers and any funds that are needed to keep the school running.

“So it’s really sustainable and community-based.”

Heelan said the bikes are donated from Rams Head Recreation Center, the Student Recreation Center and the Exercise and Sport Science Department.

She said she became involved with Building Tomorrow at the end of her freshman year at UNC.

“I just basically fell in love with it. Bike to Uganda that first year was so fun and it was so great, like being a part of the inaugural group of the inaugural Bike to Uganda,” she said.

Groups can sign up for a block of time to bike together.

Junior Samantha Luu biked with a group of fellow club gymnasts Monday.

“It’s fun team bonding. And I get some exercise,” she said.
“And I think it’s a really cool mission.”

Contact the desk editor at
university@dailytarheel.com.

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