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Friday, November 14, 2014

From Failure to Success to More than Success

In early August, four cyclists started from Brussel's Grote Market to begin Syricipede, the revamped version of my failed 'Cycling to Syria' fundraiser.

Three and a half months later, Syricipede has succeeded beyond anyone's expectations. Three cyclists are currently in Antakya, Turkey, helping with labor and fundraising to build a center for Syrian refugee children there. Over six thousand dollars have been raised for Syria Relief and Development, a thousand dollars more than the original 'Cycling to Syria' goal, and double the Syricipede goal. Ten cyclists-- from Belgium, Holland, Thailand, Australia, Turkey and the US-- have participated in the relay.

I had a lot of  doubts about this idea-- after cycling 2000 kilometers on my own I hadn't raised a single dollar-- but Lien backed me up and connected with Lore and she connected with all of Holland and Belgium and cyclists joined and money came in and the cyclists have not only reached Antakya and inspired people to donate to help victims of the war in Syria, they have also effectively got their own humanitarian organization started just a few kilometers away from the Syrian border. So from the failed 'Cycling to Syria' came the successful 'Syricipede' and from that something new and even better has started.

So thanks, first and foremost to Lien Derycker, who took the dying ember of a spent fire and got it flaming again. Thanks to Lore Termont who turned the flame into a blazing bonfire.

Aside from Lien, Lore and myself, the other cyclists have been Nadine, Sirapon, Feike, Kurt Vandelanotte, Wouter Decock, Senturk Kemiksiz, and Greta Kading. Thanks to all of these courageous and compassionate heroes.

In addition to these cyclists, thanks to the fundraising team: Lien, Lore, Sirapon, Kurt, Wouter, Senturk, and Greta from the cycling team, as well as Jasmine Low, Markus Mayer (RIP), and Ellen Cocquyt.

And thanks to the dozens of donors who so generously gave, and to those who have helped the cyclists on the road, and everyone else who has supported in some way.

Also special thanks to all the people who helped me when I was on the road,  and to those who were there to help again in some way, most notably:

Lorenza Gamberini who told me to get settled before doing the fundraiser, and she was right. Lorenza helped me get my bike and helped to start the 'Cycling to Syria' page on Facebook and gave me a place to stay when I was almost penniless.

Sabina and her family in Montecchio Precalcino, who also gave me a place to stay and found me work and helped in a dozen ways and backed me up 100%. 'Cycling to Syria' officially began from their house.

Inge Huijssoon who not only hosted me twice when I was cycling alone, but hosted me again at the start of Syricipede and hosted Sirapon too.

Yvonne Somers, who hosted me and then four Syricipede cyclists a year later.

Elke Sohler, who also hosted me on the road twice, then took me in for good before hosting two other Syricipede cyclists.

Dejan Vickovic, who hosted me two years ago in Bosnia, and hosted Lore and Feike in September.

Lozinka Bakalska, who helped my travel buddy out two years ago in Bulgaria, and was there to host Lore recently.

And also the half dozen hosts of mine from two years ago who were ready to host our cyclists but for some reason never had the chance.

And finally, thanks to Selda Bozbiyik, who hosted me in Ankara almost two years ago, and rekindled my hope for peace, and who worked hard with me in Antakya to find a way to help the refugees there, and who gave me the idea to return to finish the work.

Follow the ongoing efforts of the cyclists in Antakya here:

And you can still donate to Syria Relief and Development here: