The Leader Article June 12, 2014

Art a la Carte: Ride for the Survivors
June 12, 2014 | Filed under: Art a la Carte,Hipstrict,Top Stories | Posted by: admin

I’m taking a slight diversion from art this week to tell you about what three men are doing that I find absolutely amazing, inspiring and courageous. They were brought to my attention by Kevin Chenevert and Amy Taylor last week at their art opening as the charity which received 10% of their sales.

Next week three Texans, will ride their bicycles 200 miles across the Rwandan mountains. (Yes, Rwanda is in Africa.)

Totally self-funded, they are riding to raise awareness for the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide and raise money for the Survivors Fund. The Ride for the Survivors is what they’re calling their fundraising campaign.

In 1994, approximately 1,000,000 Rwandans, primarily Tutsis, were murdered in a genocide perpetrated by the Hutu death squads. The goal of the Survivors Fund is to help as many of the 400,000 survivors as possible. The majority of whom are widows and orphans; the Survivors Fund has been one of the most effective non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in securing grants for programs to aid these widows and orphans.

David Chaney has been volunteering with the Survivors Fund and teaching his accounting skills. He has made five trips to Rwanda and is a trustee of the Survivors Fund. Chaney came up with the idea for The Ride for the Survivors while trying to figure out a way past a personal hurtle of losing the last 65 pounds of 175 to meet his goal weight of 200 pounds by his 40th birthday.

“That’s when I thought of riding a bicycle across Rwanda to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the genocide. I wanted to do something substantial on a personal level for it,” Chaney said of his idea. “The 20th anniversary also happens to be a few months after my 40th birthday. If I planned and promoted a bicycle ride across mountainous, high altitude Rwanda, I would have to lose that final 65 pounds. For the past year, my mantra has been ‘failure is not an option.’”

Not only did Chaney reach his goal weight, Weight Watchers featured him in their magazine.

This is where the other two riders come in the picture. To lose weight Chaney watched his diet and rode his bike daily. Being as heavy as he was, his cheap bike needed repairs often. Eventually, Blue Line Bike Lab co-owner Fred Zapalac encouraged David to get a better bike, and join him on their group rides, where he met Ron Kerr of the Heights and the third of the trio.

More than 28,000 biking miles later, Fred Zapalac and Ron Kerr will join David Chaney and depart on June 14 for The Ride for the Survivors. It may only be 200 miles, but they don’t call Rwanda the land of a thousand hills because it’s flat. The trio will start at an altitude of 5,000 feet and travel about 50 miles up to 8,000 feet. Then it’s a hilly ride back down to about 3,000 feet on a two lane black top highway.

Donations go through Charities Aid Foundation of America which allow your donation to be tax deductible. All of the money donated goes directly to the Survivors Fund.

You can follow along on their incredible journey with daily updates on their Facebook page – search for Ride for Survivors. Their website is

At 6 p.m. on Tuesday, July 29 Chaney will talk about how cycling has changed his life as well as his trip to Rwanda at the BikeHouston Monthly Social at Cuchara Restaurant, 214 Fairview Street.

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