Team Rotary RAAMs polio winning at Race Across America 2019

Team Rotary RAAMs polio winning Race Across America 2019

Great achievement for the Team Rotary RAAMs polio that last June confirmed the first place in their category and improved the record!

Thousands kilometers of training and thousands kilometers to ride before the finish line… day and night, sun and rain to cross the United States by bike, from the West coast to the East one, through 3000 miles, 12 states and 175 feet of difference in high… this is Race Across America!

Joining this amazing experience is not the main aim of the Team Rotary RAAMs polio, but rather raising money to eradicate polio worldwide.

Since last year, DERWID has supported and shared the commitment of Team Rotary RAAMs Polio in reaching this goal.

Team Rotary RAAMs polio: a project of people to people.

We have met Kurt Matzler, Management professor at the University of Innsbruck in Austria and rider of the Team Rotary RAAMs polio since 2016, to ask him more details about the experience of this year.

The Team ‘Rotary RAAMs Polio’ consists on three men and a woman, from Italy, Austria and USA. You run the Race Across America to raise money to help eradicate polio worldwide.
When and why did you start this amazing project?

Bob McKenzie from USA formed the Team Rotary Raams Polio in 2016. His vision was to combine our passion for cycling with raising money to make a significant contribution to eradicate Polio. I was lucky enough to be selected for the team as the only European in 2016.

We finished the race as a four men team and raised about USD 300,000. Inspired by our success, we decided to race again in 2017.

Six weeks before the start, one of the racers had to step back because of serious health issues. My wife Ruth was foreseen as a crew member. She is also a great cyclist, so this was her moment. We could convince her to step in. We raced as a mixed team and finished in a little more than seven days and could raise more than USD 500,000 for Rotary’s End Polio Now program.

Ruth was so excited that she pushed us to do RAAM again in 2018 and 2019. In both years we won our race category and set new records. 3,069 miles in 6 days, 14 hours and 6 minutes. But what makes us really happy are the donations. More than USD 3 million in those four years! More than 5 million children received a vaccination.

RAAM 2019- 1st place in your category and more than 1,250,000$ raised to eradicate polio: another great achieved goal! Congratulations!
Which was the most meaningful moment of this edition?

Thank you. We are really proud of this. But we could not have achieved this without the great help of our crew, the support of our sponsors, and all the people and Rotary Clubs that donated for our project.

For me there were three meaningful moments. The first one was a minute before our press meeting in Oceanside, two days before the start, when Bob told me that we have achieved a million in donations. We had already won before the start!

The second one was during the race. One of our support vehicles was involved in a horrible car accident. When I woke up from a power nap, I saw the picture of the completely destroyed car on its roof on the highway. Thanks God nobody was hurt. This accident reminded us all of how dangerous RAAM can be.

The third moment was when we arrived in Annapolis at 5:30 in the morning at sunrise. Not only we won, we set a new record! But more important, everybody arrived safe.

Looking to the future: which is the next goal of your team for 2020?

We have not yet decided whether we race again in 2020.

RAAM and our donation program requires a whole year of hard work. You need to find a great crew, consisting of 14 people that put all their efforts in this project. You need to find sponsors to cover the USD 50,000 of expenses. You need to spend all your available time to raise donations. There is not one day during the whole year, on which you don’t think of RAAM and don’t work for the project – Christmas maybe the only exception. On the other side everybody feels a kind of obligation to continue if you think of millions of children that can be protected from this horrible disease.

DERWID is thankful to the team for what they are doing and proud to be one of their sponsors.