A Change of Guard

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Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Senior cycling across Canada [to raise money for a Cambodian school]

cyclist Armin Kluge, 71 years old, navigates his bike through West Edmonton on August 8, 2011 as a part of his cross-Canada cycling tour to raise money for third world schools.

Edmonton Sun
Monday, August 8, 2011

At 70, Armin Kluge was ready for a new challenge.

He picked a daunting one, and the septuagenarian is riding his bike across Canada to raise money for a Cambodian school.

In Edmonton for a few days respite en route from Vancouver to Kenora, Ont., Kluge has been riding 100 to 120 km per day.

“I have stopped along the way in many wonderful places and met many wonderful people,” he said.

Funds raised from his journey go to educate children at Angkor Thom Junior High School, a Cambodian school built in 2007.

“It’s just an amazing experience of the generosity of the Canadian people — some reach in their pocket and give $10, $20 or $50. They’ve invited me into their homes for dinner or for breakfast,” he said.

Kluge has already far exceeded his initial goal of raising $1 per kilometre.

“We have $20,000 in donations and pledges, so it’s awesome,” he said.

Kluge took on the challenge after a school chum from Germany called him.

He has since visited the Angkor Thom school several times. Built for 150 students, it now accommodates 280 children, complete with a dorm for those who are orphaned or far from home.

Kluge and his family currently sponsor five students. For about $250 to $300 a year, you can educate one Cambodian child.

“It helps us to grow, to better understand. It’s a chance to break down barriers between haves and have nots, cross cultural barriers — and it breaks through all the political nonsense that we are exposed to, and the fear of the unknown. It works on us to be more accepting of other people and their way of life,” he said.

“It makes us understand there are other people who share this planet that are just as valuable and intelligent.”

An automotive engineer who had a career with Volkswagen, Ford and Magna International before retiring to live on his pension, Kluge said he’s acutely aware of his relative privilege.

“I’m the luckiest guy on earth,” he said.

He claims absolute beginner status when it comes to cycling.

“I’m a rookie,” he said, citing a stop to ask directions near Langley, B.C., where he got his foot locked in a pedal. It took two weeks for his knee to heal from that; then, near Mount Robson, he stalled his bike again and reinjured the knee.

Kluge plans to leave Edmonton Tuesday or Wednesday, and to ride the Yellowhead all the way to Winnipeg. Then it will be on to Kenora, Ont.

Learn more at www.helpcambodianschool.org.

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