This November, The British School Al-Khubairat secondary school in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE) selected World Bicycle Relief and Promoting Equality in African Schools (PEAS), an organization that builds schools in Uganda and Zambia, to benefit from a 24-hour Bike-a-Thon.
In May 2011, a student committee was formed to organize events and raise awareness of different charities. When the students heard about WBR, they came up with the idea of a Bike-a-Thon in which students would sign up to cycle during different time slots of a 24-hour period, recruiting sponsors to donate to their cause. The event was completely student-led and highly successful. By the day of the event, 288 volunteers had signed up to fill a 30-minute cycling slot – enough to keep six bikes going for the entire 24 hours!
On November 28th at 2pm, an ordinary school day at BSAK transformed into an explosion of activity, setting up stationary bikes and even a videoconferencing camera. The first round of cyclists took to their wheels while other peers, parents, and teachers gathered round to cheer them on.
Over the course of the next 24 hours, the Bike-a-Thon saw sweaty students, cyclists in pajamas, ongoing pizza deliveries, and visits from all sorts of people within the BSAK community. Many students who had signed up for the overnight slots stayed the entire evening for a sleepover, though it did not involve much sleep! Participant Leya Beida:
If somebody told me a month ago that I would be cycling at 2am to benefit charity, I would have laughed at them! However, it became a reality and I loved every second of it.
Many other students noted that they were excited about being a part of such a unique and fun way to raise money for others.
A live stream was set up at the event so that viewers from all over the world could watch and cheer on the cyclists – WBR and PEAS supporters from Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the United States, and the United Kingdom tuned in over the course of the day to be a part of the inaugural Bike-a-Thon.
At 2pm on the following day, all of the participants were cheered through the finish line as the schools Brass band played Mission Impossible. Overall, the event raised $26,000 USD–an outstanding achievement for a first-time event! The total will be split between the two organizations. Student Joseph Elkadi said, The 24-hour Bike-a-Thon was by far the most successful and gratifying charity event to take place at the British School Al-Khubairat. The organization and preparation of the event was such a challenging experience that will never be forgotten, nor will the actual event that surely brought the whole school community together under one simple but life-changing cause: Education in Africa.