The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Ride for World Health team making journey


Staff writer

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On a coast-to-coast trip covering about 80 miles per day, a group of cyclists are set to arrive in Portales today to share information on world health.

Ride for World Health is a cycling team and nonprofit that undertakes a 3,200-mile cycling journey every year from San Diego to Washington DC. The cyclists will give a presentation at 2 p.m. today at Eastern New Mexico University Campus Union Building’s Sandia Room.

The free presentation will explore issues such as global surgery, warning signs of concussions and sports injuries.

The group of 20 cyclists are mostly medical students on the verge of graduating from Ohio State University. They are also raising awareness — and funds — for better world health. Aside from giving health presentations in cities and towns along their route, R4WH is accepting donations for Empower and Advance, which trains first responders in Haiti; Health Africa, which is based in the eastern Congo and advocates for women’s health; and PODEMOS, which provides medical care in Honduras.

So far, R4WH 2014 has raised about $56, 000.

The riders began their 2014 journey by driving out to San Diego from Columbus, Ohio.

“We dipped our rear tires in (the beach) in San Diego and started riding,” said cyclist and fourth-year med student Brandon Merling in a phone conversation Wednesday evening from Santa Rosa. He said OSU med students departed San Diego on March 26. They are joined by two med students from other institutions, a nurse practitioner, an emergency room nurse and a midwife.

Merling said most of the OSU students — including himself — are set to graduate as MDs on May 5. They will ride through Columbus for their graduation before continuing their ride to Bethany Beach, Del., where they are scheduled to arrive May 11.

The R4WH adventure counts as class credit, Merling said.

“We had to write a paper and put together presentations on global health topics,” he said. Aside from being class credit, Merling said the mission of R4WH is threefold: to advocate, to educate and to encourage solidarity between the U.S. and the rest of the world.

“In the 21st century, the difference between being here in the U.S. and anywhere else (in the world) is becoming narrower,” Merling said. “We all need to band together.”

This is the second time that R4WH riders have made the trek to ENMU. The first time they visited the area, they caught ENMU administrators unaware.

“They contacted us; we didn’t know about this program,” said Maria Garcia, director of ENMU International Affairs. Their presentation last year was “a great success,” Garcia said, so much so that the riders were invited back.

Bringing the cyclists back to Portales was a joint effort between Sodexo, International Affairs and the ENMU Athletic Department, Garcia said.


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