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Dirk Spits will cycle 17,000 miles to raise awareness and money for his charity, 99%RIDE.

Sara Natividad
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Dirk Spits left his comfortable life in Amsterdam, hopped on a bike with 80 pounds on his back and began his toughest physical challenge yet — a 17,000-mile ride from the northernmost tip of Alaska to the southernmost tip of Argentina.

During his 70-mile-a-day journey through 15 countries, he hopes his zeal will raise awareness for his foundation 99%RIDE, which donates money to underprivileged children unaccustomed to stability in both their homes and schools.

After cycling for more than 2,500 miles, Spits will stop in San Luis Obispo to teach people about 99%RIDE’s cause.

At a presentation hosted by the Cal Poly recreation, parks and tourism administration department, Spits will ask the Cal Poly community to “give 1 percent of their time, money and knowledge” on Feb. 13 at 11 a.m. in Alan A. Erhart Agriculture (building 10), room 225 while he shares stories of his travels, his mission for 99%RIDE and the children it will benefit.

The money will be donated to four projects geared toward improving schools and living conditions for children in South America. Their efforts will be videotaped to show donors how their money is being spent.

One of the projects in Colombia gives children an incentive to stay in school by providing them with the opportunity and equipment to be on a soccer team, as long as they don’t drop out.

“I lived in La Paz, and I’ve seen what it’s like to live there and be a kid there,” Samantha Soekhoe, a member of 99%RIDE’s networking team said. “The charity The Grid Earth Project teaches children simple things like brushing their teeth and washing their hands after they use the restroom and before they eat dinner.”

Soekhoe and Wouter van Eenbergen drive a few days ahead of Spits to create a network in the places Spits is visiting before he arrives.

Van Eenbergen met Spits approximately six years ago and has always been inspired by his desire to live an extraordinary life, he said. Last year, when Spits shared his idea for 99%RIDE, van Eenbergen immediately jumped aboard and used his communications experience to get volunteers to help create the foundation’s image.

“I come from a comfortable home where we can afford to have a glass of wine every night,” van Eenbergen said. “But I know many people are less fortunate. You come to a place in your life where you just want to do something and do it for yourself.”

After extensive networking, they raised enough money for their travel and operational expenses. Since the start of Spit’s ride, they have raised $6,000 and van Eenbergen and Sokehoe will continue to travel ahead of Spits, as long as they still have enough money for gas and $6 dollars a day for food.

Despite daily meals of white beans and tomato sauce with pasta, the two are happy with their adventure and have been rewarded by the people they’ve interacted with. They do not have a set monetary goal in mind and want to contribute to more projects if their ventures are successful.

The organization is raising awareness in communities and visiting elementary schools to show children the other side of life.

Van Eenbergen said he realized their efforts were making an impact in this world when a 6-year-old girl named Zoey handed him a dollar and a penny and said, “I want to give my 1 percent.”

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