MEET THE FOUNDER

 
 

Mike's Story

THE JOURNEY

 

It started with a motorcycle ride. Like most everything significant in my life, it started with a motorcycle ride. 
I was working as a consultant, matching would-be business owners with new and growing franchises. Helping people realize their business goals and dreams. It was good helping other people become more successful in business, but I was unfulfilled. So I put the business on hold and hopped on a KTM 950 Adventure motorcycle and rode from Minneapolis to Ankeny, Iowa, my hometown then to Ushuaia, Argentina, the southernmost city in South America. It was to be an epic adventure. One that would shape my perspective in a way that wasn't anticipated. Before leaving, a family friend suggested stopping at an orphanage in Cordoba, Mexico, where she had visited, doing medical mission work.

After some fearful experiences, I made my way to the orphanage and was greeted with open arms. The kids were magic. Full of curiosity: Dónde eres? Dónde vas? Where are you from, where are you going? We looked at maps and I showed them where we were in Córdoba, where I had ridden from and where I was heading. You are what? That is crazy? You cannot do that! It's impossible! As I shared my journey with them, I saw a range of feelings in their eyes: wonder, awe, a little fear, and possibility.  Like, if this gringo can ride a moto down the entire hemisphere with just a bag of clothes, maybe I can do that, too

 

HELMET TIME

After five days at the orphanage, I continued on my trip south. Riding solo, you have lots of time on your own, you, the road and the bike. Lots of time to think. Helmet time. I kept revisiting the kid’s reactions to my visit and trip. It was unintentional, but it felt like their eyes openend to new possibility and hope. In a small way, I had educated them about a different way of life. I wondered what would happen if they were encouraged to follow their own dreams.

Education, whether through experience or in the classroom, makes everything possible. You learn math and science and you learn how things are made, discovery and invention become possible. You learn to read and you begin to see the world through other’s eyes and you begin to understand a wider world. Education makes imagination, growth, and discovery possible.

At the end of the 6 month trip I learned some daunting realities about children and education, or lack of, in developing countries. I learned that the average life expectancy of uneducated children is 50% less than the average life expectancy of North Americans. High mortality rate in the young. High rates of abuse and exploitation. High rates of poverty, illness. Especially with misplaced children and orphans. Being an orphan anywhere is a hard road. Being an orphan in the developing world is a cyclical pattern of poverty, illness and often early death. Without access to education its a cycle nearly impossible to break. Like the right to have clean water, healthy food and safe shelter, education is a right. A moral, human right. There are over 65 million children who don’t have access to quality education.

Kids growing up in systemic poverty, without school, would be transformed if you provide them with safe shelter, a caring environment and education. And if you provide those basic needs, and rights, over the course of a child’s development years, you change their potential opportunities. One child at a time, one classroom at a time.

The end of my South American journey to Ushuaia marked the beginning of a new journey. Which a few years later became actualized with a trip to Uganda. A journey to transform passengers into riders. A journey to build schools for children in under served areas. A journey to give hope and education.

TODAY WE ARE PASSENGERS
TOMORROW WE ARE RIDERS

I named the non-profit organization World Riders Foundation because it brings together a love of travel and motorcycling with educational and transformative opportunity.

Please join me and deliver hope to those who need it most.