Why I Give: Cyrus Chimento, Keene Kelderman, Graham Martin-Poteet

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      EditImage Description:Cyrus Chimento, Keene Kelderman and Graham Martin-Poteet hold their bikes over their heads.
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      When a trio of seniors from St. Mary’s College of Maryland planned a post-graduation trip, they decided to go big — really big. With just a three-day training run for experience, they embarked on a 3,877-mile, cross-country bike trip as a fundraiser for Conservation International.

      First question: why CI? ‘We chose CI because we loved the work that it does,” explained Graham Martin-Poteet. “CI takes a holistic approach that focuses on many environmental issues. It works mainly in the global South. And it’s a large enough organization that it has some serious impact on the ground and in government.”

      Naming their trek “Gear Up for a Greener Earth,” the cyclists set out from the Washington Monument on May 20. Over the next 52 days, they spent a whopping 305 hours in the saddle, averaging about 75 miles a day. With the help of 160 contributors, they raised a total of $10,665 for CI through online giving at Crowdrise.

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      EditQuote Text (Do not add quotation marks):CI takes a holistic approach that focuses on many environmental issues. It works mainly in the global South. And it’s a large enough organization that it has some serious impact on the ground and in government.
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      The crew camped out about half the nights and sought out local eateries to supplement their basic rations of peanut butter and oatmeal. Wherever they stopped, they made new friends and explained how their efforts supported CI’s work.

      Conquering Loup Loup Pass in Washington presented the biggest challenge of the trip. “The climb was 3,000 feet over 15 miles,” said Keene Kelderman. “That wasn’t impossible, considering we had done similar climbs the day before. But we started the climb around noon, when the heat started to turn up. I would much rather bike through wind and rain than I would through heat.”

      All three agreed on the journey's high point. “Glacier National Park around Logan’s Pass was absolutely, incredibly beautiful,” said Cyrus Chimento. “We climbed the pass very early, 5 am, and watched the sunlight creep over the valley. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

      Through their epic ride, the friends helped CI to protect nature around the world. As Chimento noted modestly, their action is just one way to contribute. “There are so many people working towards a greener earth in so many ways,” he said.

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