Combining three passions

Aaron Anderson on his mountain bike

Rider for a cause: Aaron Anderson will cycle 1,200 km across Cambodia to raise money for orphans. Photo: Shann Anderson

Dr Aaron Anderson, local sports osteopath and bike riding enthusiast will be participating in the 2010 Great Cambodian Bike Ride, 1-8th September as both a rider and team osteopath. The ride is the annual fundraiser for Kampuchea House, a Cambodian orphanage located in Northern Cambodia about 40 kilometres outside of Siem Reap.

Kampuchea House was established in 2007 for orphaned Cambodian children with a mission to provide children with housing, security, education, and a family environment in a traditional Cambodian setting. Twenty-four children currently live at the orphanage with the aim of this year’s bike ride primarily being to raise $45,000 to build another house to accommodate six more children.

Like most non-government run orphanages in Cambodia, Kampuchea House is dependent upon the fundraising efforts of committed groups and individuals in well-off countries. It is the third time the ride has been organised and each year it has grown in number of participants and distance. This years ride will see eleven riders taking part including two New Zealanders. The course has also been extended from 500km in 2009 to a gruelling 1200km in 2010.

Aaron intends to ride the entire distance in addition to fulfilling the role as the team osteopath. Aaron will be recovering himself each day from riding before assisting other riders where possible with their recovery. It will be Aaron’s job to manage and treat injuries using osteopathic techniques, anticipating riders to experience sore backs, sore knees, with potential accidents and falls along the way, particularly as riders get tired toward the end of the day.

Aaron’s motivation stems back some eleven years having visited Cambodia, where he was moved by this third world country in which many people experience severe hardship. His desire to help people here in this city flows over to wanting in some way to make a difference and supporting an orphanage seemed a good idea. Like any parent, he wishes all kids the best life they can possibly have whereever they live. He can’t imagine how hard life would be being an orphan or street kid in Cambodia without a home.

Aaron was seeking to make his regular social rides more purposeful taking on a greater meaning, riding for a cause makes sense than for its own sake. This a match for Aaron’s three passions family, community and riding knowing that children in Cambodia will be the worthy recipients.

Cycling conditions will vary and include a mixture of sealed and unsealed roads as well as dirt tracks (aka goat tracks!), hills, jungle areas and some river crossings. He will be riding a Giant mountain bike from Cycle Concepts for the ride. With the weather in Cambodia at this time of the year sultry and steamy the proposed average of 150km per day, with Day 1 and Day 5 being big rides over 200km, will be testing. The group plans to start riding early each day (5am) and then rest and recover in the afternoon. Riders will be drinking bottled water, and eating a lot of rice, noodles and authentic Khmer cuisine. Given the humidity, riders have also been advised not to eat meat in Cambodia – as the meat may not be refrigerated.

Aaron has been cycling for 20 years and after returning back to Bendigo some four years ago has commented: “The people of Bendigo and the wider cycling community have always been very supportive of different fund-raising events over the years. We are hoping they will also show their support for Kampuchea House. I think lots of people in Bendigo genuinely care about helping others who are less fortunate and want to be involved in some way. It is really rewarding to be “giving” something to people who are in desperate need.”

Aaron has been set a team target to individually raise $3000 for Kampuchea House. The 2011 Great Cambodian Bike Ride is already scheduled and the route has been mapped out. If all goes well, Aaron is hoping other Bendigo riders will join next year in riding and supporting Kampuchea House with him. There is a coffee morning on the 28th August at Spencers on Carpenter Street a $1 from each coffee purchased will be for the cause. All welcome! Free Balloons for kids!

Donations to Kampuchea House can also be made directly online. Contact: Aaronosteo@gmail.com.au or Shann (0415 588 485)

Looking forward to seeing you on the road soon God willing

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