The fact that Elmira native Charlie Bauman is in the midst of a 10- to 12-month bike trek across the United States and Canada to raise money for World Vision leads to certain questions. No, not just questions about what moved him to exert so much time and energy for charity, but more practical questions, such as: how on earth does he afford such a lifestyle?
“I am not rich – a working college graduate,” said Bauman. However, he added, “I am a strong believer in, if your not giving until it hurts, you’re not giving enough.”
That’s the philosophy that has fueled Bauman’s trek, which began in Astoria, Oregon on May 17 and won’t be over until well into 2014. Bauman is travelling America via the Trans America route, which will see him passing through 10 states of small towns and scenic byways, approximately 7,000 kilometres.“When travelling essentially self-supported, minus groceries and water, every small gesture is crucial,” said Bauman. “As I was in grabbing some groceries on my bike with a sign promoting World Vision, a lady came up to me in the grocery store and gave me her change and used her members card to give a discount on the bill.”
After that, the real work begins, travelling from Rochester, New York to Fairbanks, Alaska through Canada (with an August/September stop in Elmira). He anticipates that he will reach Edmonton when heavy snowfall begins, and will spend several months there training and fundraising before the spring.
Since the idea is to generate as much money for charity as possible, Bauman is working on a budget of around $10 per day, pitching his tent at whatever roadsides and parks will allow him.
“As for cleaning, let’s just say there are days you wouldn’t want to be behind me in the grocery store,” he said. “Travelling like this opens your eyes to the potential in many things you otherwise might not have seen. A waterfall along the road? Shower!”
Bauman says his concern for the less-fortunate was sparked by a trip to India for a wedding, which became a 45-day tour through the country. While there, he saw firsthand the income gap, and the children in poverty.
“Cultural differences were also something to get used to, what really opened my eyes to what we often forget is we all have the same essential desires; culture, skin colour, language none of it matters. We all want self respect, health, happiness.”
After his first semester in college, he began to sponsor a child through World Vision, which eventually led to three. Since then, Bauman has been a strong believer in the Christian charity.
“By sponsoring a child you’re helping the child’s family, which in return helps the community,” he said. “They provide health aid, schooling, agricultural education, water drilling to name a few. They also have individual programs, like purchasing farm animals, or sending supplies, as well as where an urgent crisis may have occurred.”
He added, “I don’t claim to be a saint – just a flawed human trying to make a change.”
Bauman hopes to raise $15,000, or one for every kilometre pedaled. Donations can be made at worldvision.ca by searching “Raising Hope.” His progress can be followed at www.facebook.com/Cycle4Humanity.