Rappstar's 10th Annual Charity Challenge: The First And Last 100

My main reason for writing is to share this year's special limited edition thank you for the first 100 donors. Once again, BOCO Gear has stepped up in a big way. This year, we have matching knit hats & scarves, celebrating the 10 Year milestone of this fundraiser. Thanks to Kay & the crew at BOCO for their awesome design work and support! As a reminder, any of the first 100 donors of $147 or more (the cost of one Buffalo bicycle) will receive a hat & scarf.

To enter the challenge, you can donate online at: 

You can also submit donations via traditional mail (make sure to make a note it is for the Rappstar Charity Challenge) at this address:
World Bicycle Relief
Attn: Development
1000 W Fulton Market
4th Floor
Chicago, IL 60607

This time of year is special for many people for reasons too varied to count. When I first started this fundraiser, I was an about-to-be-married whippersnapper of 29. When think of everything that has happened since - my marriage, the birth of my kids (all four of them!), my accident in 2010, and the comeback from it, this fundraiser has been a thread that has woven its way into the fabric of my story. The second edition of this fundraiser coincided with my return to the race course at IMAZ 2010. The fifth edition happened when my twin daughters were born in 2013. The ninth edition was highlighted, for me, by the giveaway of 100 3-month memberships to Zwift, where I've found an incredible home that I never could have imagined when I started to see that my racing career was winding down. At (almost) every one of my trips to Kona, I remember taking to the stage to talk about World Bicycle Relief, which is easily the most memorable thing about any of those races.

Sport is largely defined by the ups and downs of it. The highest of highs and the lowest of lows. But both in victory (occasionally) and defeat (more often than not), I found a great deal of passion and meaning in my ability to use the small platform I had to leave an impact larger than sport and larger than I ever could have done on my own.

I first chose to do my fundraiser - with the goal of raising $13,700 or 100 bikes before the price went up - in 2009 largely by happenstance. I was invited to sign autographs at Interbike in 2009 at the WBR booth because of my relationship with SRAM. As the extremely non-famous winner of exactly one prominent race, I was asked for my autograph one time, by a friend who I knew was at the show that I begged to come by so that the number would not be zero. In the rest of the time that I had, which was clearly not going to be filled with the signing of anything, I decided to learn about World Bicycle Relief and its mission. As an engineer in thinking if not so much in practice anymore, I was inspired by the practical nature of their work. In the hands of students, farmers, and aid workers, the bicycle was a tool. I thought of the connection to my own career, where a bicycle was certainly a tool, albeit a very different one. Having already achieved pretty much everything I'd set out to do in triathlon, I needed something else to guide me. I'd never thought beyond that finish line in Canada, and WBR gave me that and continued to give me that.

Gearing up for IMAZ, I thought about the goal that I'd set, and the promise I'd made - 10% of my own prize money, back when I actually raced for paychecks, and it was the first step on a journey that I never could have imagined. Now, almost $600,000 in funds raised later, I'd say - as a group, since Slowtwitch and the Slowtwitch community has been a part of this from the get-go - we've done good work.

I think it's also extremely fitting that I first discovered Zwift through the first ever WBR Zwift-A-Thon in 2015. That's been another annual tradition, and this year I was proud to play a role in the 4th annual edition, sitting on the other side of project. For those of you who took part and "enjoyed" one of my workouts, you're welcome!

Back when people used to ask me things, I was sometimes asked if I'd ever been to see the bikes on the ground, and my answer was always - and remains - "No." And, truthfully, I'm more than okay with that. My feeling was always that I believed in the mission for its clarity and for its obvious success and impact. It would have cost money to get me to Africa, and that money would be better spent on more bikes. The pictures and words of the smiling children who receive these bikes has always been more than enough reward. Besides, I always felt like it was other people who did the real work. I didn't donate all those bikes. I just bugged a bunch of you all to make it happen.

As we come to the end of this road, because it is clear that my time in the role of fundraiser is done, I wanted to thank all of you who've made this such a great success. I think of all the people I've come to know. The names I see year after year. The emails I got asking me, in late fall, if there was going to be a year 10. There almost wasn't, but it was those messages that reminded me of how important this project is - and has been to me over the years - that made me realize that I wanted to make it an even 10. The parallels to my own career as a triathlete, where I sought a punctuation-mark 10th major win and came up short, were not lost on me. And I decided that this was not something that I wanted to leave as another hanging nine...

With now over 400,000 bikes in the field, this fundraiser has been responsible for roughly 1% of all those bikes, something that I think is a truly amazing testament to this community. With every bike touching and changing the lives of 20 people, that's 80,000 people whose lives have been made better because of your willingness to give. And, as a reminder, as with all other years, your donation will be matched 1:1. So while the goal of this fundraiser is $50,000, the impact will be 2X that. Thank you again to you all for your support, your generosity, and your belief. The Power of Bicycles never ceases to amaze me, but it's nothing compared to the power of people. Thank you.