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Duo to Race for a Cause

Pune: They’re on a mission, and they’re having some very serious fun trying to meet their goal. Meet US–based social worker Karen McCready and UK–based student Tim Lloyd, who, apart from going about their daily professional lives, are learning to drive an auto rickshaw these days.

The duo, under the team name of Pune Rebels’, will be embarking on the 3,500–kilometre–long Rickshaw Run’ from Shillong to Goa, to raise funds for their favourite Indian AIDS charities. The team will cover this distance in an autorickshaw in 15 days starting April 11 in Shillong.

The Rickshaw Run is an event held by an organisation called The Adventurists and started in December 2006 with an aim to mix adventure with fund–raising. All participating teams raise funds for their favourite charities through this drive.

McCready and Lloyd will spread awareness on HIV/AIDS and raise funds for Deep Groha Society in Pune and the Frank Water Projects in Andhra Pradesh.

“In partnership with Wake Up Pune, which is a coalition of NGOs working to raise awareness about HIV in Pune, we will be designing an HIV–positive’ rickshaw (the mobile will be covered with information on HIV/AIDS in Hindi). It will also have messages about promoting love and support for those living with the disease,” says McCready. The duo will also hand out educational material in Hindi along their route.

While for McCready, who has been working in the field of HIV/AIDS for almost five years now, her work is a result of her education in South Africa where she volunteered with an AIDS orphanage and AIDS hospice, for Lloyd, it was his arrival in India and introduction to Wake Up Pune that got him started.

“I am currently an undergraduate student of Technical Entrepreneurship at the University of Surrey, UK. I came to India six months back for an internship with a software development company in Pune, as a part of my university degree,” he says, adding that the duo are learning to drive an auto rickshaw.

The Rickshaw Run is a perfect way to realising my dream of exploring India and raising money, Lloyd feels. To date the duo has raised Rs 63,000 for their chosen charities and hope to raise much more in the days to come.

“We are excited about raising money for charity, but our motive behind undertaking this adventure is to raise awareness about AIDS, promote HIV education and combat the stigma and discrimination HIV–positive people face in India,” McCready says.

Interestingly, McCready has undertaken similar adventure runs in the past for raising funds for AIDS charities. Some of these include a 60–mile–long hike on the Great Wall of China to raise funds for the American Foundation for AIDS Research in 2004 and riding her bike 560 miles across the state of New York in the summer of 2007 to raise money for New York–based AIDS service and research organisations.

“Many people have questioned us about why are we doing something so crazy just to raise money. The reason is that today AIDS has become something that many people don’t talk about, either because they don’t think it affects them personally or because they are uncomfortable talking about it,” says McCready.

This run, she adds, is an unusual way in which they can get people to talk about the disease more openly. “We want to try and break people’s misconceptions about HIV and open their hearts to love and support those living with the disease in their communities,” Lloyd says.

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Source: Times of India

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