World Bicycle Relief is excited to announce our 2017 WBR Ambassadors! Now in its fifth year, the WBR Ambassador Program, backed by our amazing sponsors, provides a select group of supporters with gear and fundraising tools to help them in their year-long adventure to transform lives through the Power of Bicycles. Each Ambassador is challenged to raise $10,000 to provide bicycles to students and healthcare workers in rural Africa as well as train ten mechanics to keep bikes up and running. This year, we had an extremely competitive group of applicants which made the decision particularly challenging. We are excited to announce our five WBR Ambassadors for 2017, in honor of the fifth year of this program. Please take a moment to meet each of our new Ambassadors!
A road cyclist from Corte Madera, California, Yann Bertaud found cycling in 2005 when he started commuting to and from work. His 18-mile journey each way was not only his main method of transportation but also a way to get healthy and fit. Beyond his physical health, Yann also experienced profound psychological benefits through his daily rides.
When Yann started participating in longer and harder rides, including the Death Ride (135 miles, 15,000ft. of climbing), he found a sense of accomplishment along with the physical and mental power of bicycles. During this time, he also became an ardent follower of the Fat Cyclist blog and the community that surrounded and supported Elden Nelson’s efforts for World Bicycle Relief. This group eventually started meeting up, racing together, and forming amazing friendships that span the country coast to coast. Many members of this group have since become supporters of World Bicycle Relief and even previous WBR Ambassadors!
Yann is particularly passionate about what a bike can provide for a student fighting for her education. With a 15-year-old daughter himself, Yann recognizes the remarkable power of arriving on time and ready to learn. He is committed to helping give other girls like his daughter a brighter future and opportunities that they could have only dreamed of before.
Yann is excited to share the mission of World Bicycle Relief to help provide life-changing transportation to those in need. In Yann’s own words, “I believe in the power of the bicycle and its ability to transform a person’s life. I’ve experienced a couple of transformations first-hand in my own life. I hope that my involvement with WBR can help transform the lives of people who need it more than I could ever imagine.” We couldn’t be more honored to have Yann as one of our 2017 Ambassadors.
Lizzie Brenkus is based out of Park City, Utah and has a long history of being involved in her community and helping empower others through running, dancing, and sport. An ultrarunner herself, Lizzie has been involved in programs around the country focused on outreach and involvement. She’s excited to use her experience, creative ideas, and networking opportunities from these groups to extend WBR’s reach and presence.
Having lived abroad and with a Masters in Education (with a dual focus in international education development and technology in education), it’s no surprise that Lizzie recognizes the power of uplifting people through work, education, and access to both. She recognizes that a tangible object like a bicycle has an immediate effect on individuals, transforming their lives with the gift of reliable transportation.
Lizzie is excited about the Park City community and their commitment to cycling, civic engagement, and an active lifestyle. She looks forward to activating this community through her own racing and bringing people together for meaningful conversation over dinner and wine. She and her husband John have a presence on TV and in the entertainment world, which she plans to use to elevate WBR’s profile within other groups.
Lizzie writes, “I LOVE that WBR creates an opportunity for people to take charge of their lives in a way that helps them grow, develop, pursue passions, work easier, and in all cases support and lift their communities. The bikes that WBR provides are not just a mode of transportation, but of total community uplift and joy.”
We’re looking forward to seeing what Lizzie has in store for 2017. She may be small, but she is mighty!
Christopher is based out of Durango, Colorado. At 19 years old, Christopher is currently in his first year of college at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo and plans to major in Business Administration. He was raised riding bikes and 2017 will be his first season as a professional U23 racer for Axeon Hagens Berman. But Christopher wants to more than just race. He wants to be an active member of his community – someone who gives back. Using cycling as a platform, Christopher is excited to take his racing to a higher level by helping elevate the work of World Bicycle Relief.
Much of Christopher’s family is involved in medicine and his sister Kaylee’s emphasis on public health has been an inspiration to him. Christopher is particularly interested in WBR’s potential to make healthcare more accessible to individuals around the world.
Outside of cycling, Christopher has found an outlet and form of expression through poetry which he hopes to use to inspire and create change. Watch him recite his poem “Battlefield” at a Cal Poly poetry event. “I think it exposes a side of me that isn’t revealed as much in my cycling. The outlook expressed in the poem is to continue to do good and recognize beauty in all we do, and I think that reflects my desire to inspire positive change, whether it’s while I’m behind handlebars or a microphone,” Christopher says of his poetry.
Christopher is excited to share the Power of Bicycles throughout the year and we’re honored to have him as a 2017 WBR Ambassador.
Denise has been an avid cyclist for more than 20 years. She loves the adventures and the amazing community she has found through cycling. First introduced to World Bicycle Relief through inGamba, Denise really dove deep into the transformative power a bicycle has on an individual in rural Africa. She loves the emphasis placed on girls, who are often pulled out of school early to give more opportunities to sons in the family.
Denise writes, “I love cycling. I love connecting with people through cycling, sharing a passion for cycling and cycling adventures, and seeing people who want to push their limits on the bike. I would love to help change the world through the power of bicycles.”
Denise hopes to use her passion for cycling and her spot within this community to help raise both funds and awareness for the cause. She will be traveling to various events throughout the year and is excited to help promote World Bicycle Relief’s work both at home and on the road. In particular, she looks forward to raising awareness about the ways in which bicycles eliminate the barriers of distance. We’re looking forward to reaching new places with Denise’s support.
Jennifer (and Clara) Minnich
This mother-daughter duo from West Virginia has experienced the Power of Bicycles together. Jennifer Minnich began cycling two years before her daughter, Clara, as a way to regain her health and be a positive influence for daughter. Jennifer is committed to raising Clara as a strong, independent, and compassionate woman and hopes to share that with others around the world by being involved in World Bicycle Relief’s work.
Jennifer is passionate about helping create opportunities and brighter futures for women and girl students around the world. She’s excited for her daughter, Clara, to be a part of this. She shares, “The bicycle is the magical common denominator. It is the universal language of health, happiness and freedom. You can’t help but smile when riding a bike. Not all problems can be solved by riding a bicycle, but it can take you from one place in life to the next, both literally and figuratively.”
Inspired by the simplicity of the bicycle and the profound effect it can have in the lives of individuals around the world, Jennifer is excited to take on this role to help spread the concept and work of World Bicycle Relief with zeal. We’re so excited to have this dynamic duo on board for 2017!
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Feeling inspired? Celebrate the Year of the Bicycle and start your fundraiser today!