One of my long term clients is undertaking a charity ride in October to aid in the charity of St Anthony's Home for Boys near Kandy in Sri Lanka. The home was founded in 2008 and is managed by a grass roots Australian charity, the Kathleen Keegel Children's Fund providing support, education and accomodation for under-privelidged and disadvantaged youth in Sri Lanka's Foothills region.
The home provides educational support as well as safe housing to youth that have suffered abuse and social exclusion. They have already achieved success with their educational program seeing boys graduate and move onto vocational training at a centre near Colombo in the rural Sri Lankan heartland.
Trudy Van Der Straaten has a long history of competitive cycling, starting in 2003 while living in Illinois in the United States, and achieved attention quickly, being selected in Team Kenda Tire in 2004/05 and a victory in the Illinois State Road Race Championship. After returning to Australia in 2005 she continued riding competitively winning titles such as the Masters Road and Criterium National Championships, Elite State Criterium Championships and Masters Scratch Race (Track) National Championship in 2009. In 2008 Trudy was awarded Cycling NSW WMAS3 Cyclist of the Year. In the ensuing years, Trudy focussed on managing her business and cycling career, Trudy was selected in Team Specialized SA in 2011/12 and The Specialized Securitor Team in 2013 riding alongside ladies in a much younger age bracket and still being able to hold it against the youngsters and also the boys at State Club level.
A fierce competitor and passionate rider, Trudy has also had a great passion for Sri Lanka and it's people since first visiting the country. "We never visited during my childhood because my family could not afford to return but after I finished Uni and had saved enough money I decided to go on my own. I can remember distinctly my first morning waking up to the sounds and smells of Colombo, the heat and humidity. It all felt incredibly familiar even though I had never been there before. It was as if my life up to that point had been a dream from which I was finally waking".
Trudy spent an eye-opening 2 months travelling around Sri Lanka on buses and trains and saw many indescribably beautiful places. But she also saw the face of Sri Lanka that tourist brochures don't show. "The train ride from Colombo to Galle passes through mile after mile of shanty towns. Filthy, improvised, hovels that could at best be described as dog kennels or sheds decorating both sides of the train tracks, some within a few metres of the rails. Thousands of Sri Lankans live like this, alongside open stinking sewers and canals full of green sludge. It beggars belief that people, children can live like this... And yet as the train chugged through these sordid shanties, spewing vast plumes of thick black diesel fumes that flow directly into the "living" areas of these homes, their occupants appear to be going about their daily lives undeterred... Anyone born into this situation has little to no chance of escaping it, no matter how naturally gifted they may be. Imagine all the human potential wasted and locked up in miserable bone-sapping generational poverty and filth, not just here but all around the world."
"That first trip to Sri Lanka left an indelible mark on me. I knew I would return and return, for so many reasons." Trudy has continued to revisit the land she has come to love and has spent many journeys seeing the countryside on her bike, often solo and unsupported. Combining her love of cycling along with helping the locals of the community that she has grown so affectionate for, Trudy has undertaken to partake in the Katherine Keegel Childrens Fund: Ride for Social Justice.
"Its no surprise to my friends that I am (was?) a mad keen competitive cyclist. Until a few years ago I trained up to 20 hours a week while working full time so that I could compete at the elite national level. In recent times multiple injuries have forced me to put my racing goals on ice for the time being. While this has been hugely disappointing and frustrating I am so lucky that I can still ride my bike so I am now focussing on a different cycling goal ...
In September my husband Herve and I will attempt to cycle over 1000km around Sri Lanka (where my parents were born) on mountain bike carrying all our luggage, to raise money for a cause that is very close to our hearts - St Anthony's Home for children. St Anthony's was established by members of my extended family in rural Sri Lanka and provides a safe home, access to education and hope for a better future for nearly 50 children who are either orphaned, abandoned or homeless. Some of these kids have come from unimaginable situations of hardship and / or abuse. We have visited St Anthony's twice and can vouch for the amazing work they do for vulnerable and disadvantaged children.
So far we have raised over $4000 toward our target of $10,000. You can find out more and contribute toward this cause by visiting our fundraising page - please visit the link and support this cause."
Max Remedial will be supporting Trudy in her quest and ask any of you who may feel like contributing to the cause to visit the home page below where you can read in detail about the ride and what it hopes to achieve.