The Monterey County herald tells us how Day began the charity and began to find fulfillment through making a difference. In this snippet, he makes a very good point on how even bicycles can help the poor.
He discovered his calling four years ago when a devastating tsunami tore through Southeast Asia. SRAM, the company he started with his brother and a group of friends, wanted to help, so Day, 49, and his wife traveled to Sri Lanka and Indonesia, trying to determine how bikes could improve lives in countries racked by natural disasters and extreme poverty.
That led to the creation of World Bicycle Relief, which has distributed nearly 50,000 new bikes to support HIV/AIDS caregivers in Zambia and helped victims of the tsunami rebuild their lives. The nonprofit group has also dispersed hundreds of bikes in Tanzania, Rwanda, Kenya, Mozambique, Ethiopia and Lesotho.
Day has used SRAM's bike expertise to help create the workhorse equivalent of a bicycle: a 65-pound, steel-frame two-wheeler in the style of a postwar English roadster that's common in Asia and Africa. The bikes come with one or two racks that can carry an entire family or a farmer's produce to market and, more important, are sturdy enough to last a long time.
The group is planning to launch a program raising $7.5million for schools in Zambia to provide bikes to schoolchildren. Schools in the U.S. can adopt a school for $15,000, which pays for 100 bicycles. So far, Wheaton Academy in the western suburbs of Chicago has signed up and students volunteered for the program in Zambia.
"We in the developing world forget the power of transportation at the bottom of the market," he said. "Our greatest transportation story in Chicago is getting stuck in traffic, whereas in the developing world they're losing hours and hours a day walking. If we can return two, three, four hours per day to these people, that productivity can be used to better the family and better the communities."
Day says he never set out to start World Bicycle Relief. News clips of the tsunami in late 2004 prompted him and his wife, Leah Missbach Day, 50, to call U.S.-based relief groups and ask whether they would be interested in distributing used bicycles to survivors. The nonprofits said they would rather have a donation, so the Days traveled to Sri Lanka and Indonesia for field work of their own.