A group of students and professors from Luther College and local community members will embark on a 75-mile bike ride from Rochester, Minn., to Decorah on Saturday, May 7. The event was rescheduled from April 30 due to weather concerns.
The goal of the ride is to advocate for peace in Ukraine and raise funds that will go directly to Ukrainian organizations. The event is organized by Anita Tamang, a senior global health student at Luther, and Souksakhone Sengasaisouk, a junior nursing student, with the help of their faculty partner, Maryna Nading, associate professor of anthropology. Nading is originally from Ukraine and still has friends and family in the country.
“All of my family of origin and many friends are in Ukraine currently,” said Nading. “None of them left the country. They work towards victory. They believe in peace and so do I. Until that time, we need to help each other in every way possible. We also need to do the impossible, because this is what Ukrainians are doing every day against the army that outnumbers them by far.”
Tamang had been planning a bike ride from Rochester to Decorah for some time now. She knew that she wanted to use the journey as a way to raise money and advocate for a cause but was having trouble pinpointing one. When conflict arose in Ukraine, Tamang realized the unrest there would be the reason behind every pedal stroke.
“At the time that Russia invaded Ukraine, I was taking two classes with Professor Nading. I wanted to ask how she was doing but had no idea how,” said Tamang. “Because of this, I felt helpless and wanted to help however I could. Ultimately, this fundraising concept arose out of my belief that justice must be pursued by action because words are important but not very effective in changing the situation.”
Nading said she also believes that collective action is essential and says that this bike ride is the perfect way to help.
“It shows commitment, it shows endurance, it shows standing up for what’s right. I want to be clear — inside Ukraine right now, when Russian soldiers kill civilians, they are sending a message to the West. The war is not just about Ukraine. A collective response will be the only thing that will stop the war and restore peace,” she said. “I find it important to show that despite not being directly affected by the injustice, we should still stand up against it as human beings,” said Tamang.
A GoFundMe page was created for this fundraiser where students and community members are encouraged to contribute to the cause. So far close to $1,900 has been raised. These funds will go to the local oncology clinic in Khmelnytskyi, where Nading’s mother works. Any remaining finances will be given to internally displaced people (IDP) to help address current gaps in care. Every dollar raised in support of this event will go directly to the recipients.
“We will just send the money directly where it needs to go,” said Nading. “The oncology clinic in my hometown that has welcomed hundreds of IDPs to try and provide them with care has very limited resources. We are all in this together and we are reliant on each other.”
There are many ways to get involved with the Ride for Ukraine, in order to help this event go smoothly and reach as many people as possible. Monetary donations in support of the ride are important and encouraged. Additionally, there is a need for a support crew to help with things like first aid, transportation, water and food, or bike maintenance. Students and community members are also encouraged to join in the bike ride and help spread the word using social media or word of mouth locally. Anyone who is interested in getting involved should fill out this Google Form or contact Tamang at email@example.com.
Organizers said riders will depart from Rochester at 7;30 a.m. May 7, arriving at Decorah’s Pulpit Rock Brewery at approximately 6:30 p.m.
While this event is being organized by Luther students, this is not a Luther College-sponsored event.