Riders for Health Opens of USA Office

CHICAGO, IL – Riders for Health has recently opened its USA office in Chicago operating as Riders for Health II, Inc. American motorcycle road racing hero Randy Mamola and UK citizens Barry and Andrea Coleman merged their passion for motorcycles with the needs of delivering health care services in Africa to found an award-winning social enterprise in 1996.

There remains a global health care crisis that includes the HIV-AIDS epidemic and other fatal diseases in Africa where Riders is a part of the solution working with communities and many other organizations. It’s responding with purposeful motorcycles and technical training to health care workers in Africa to mobilize them. Health care can be delivered to five times more people by motorcycle than on foot. A worker can visit four or five villages a day by motorcycle rather than one per day on foot.

The vaccines, equipment and professional health care workers are vital in Africa to combat disease and general health issues. However without reliable, versatile transportation to get care to the people or take the sick and injured to the appropriate facility, lives can be lost. This is where Riders steps in with its fleet of 1,414 motorcycles, four-wheel vehicles and ambulances. It operates programs in the Gambia, Kenya, Lesotho, Nigeria, and Zimbabwe, where it works with ministries of health, UN agencies and local humanitarian organizations. All programs are managed by wholly-African, professional teams, and not by volunteers or expatriates.

Riders is the MotoGP’s official charity. In July at the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in California, fans contributed $28,000 through an auction. Riders co-founder and former 500cc World Champion contender (13 wins) Mamola said, “Motorcyclists are a passionate and compassionate bunch which is why we’re expanding our efforts in the USA in order to bring health care to many more Africans. I have visited Africa a number of times and saw the countless needs first-hand. Motorcycle use is improving health care response there, but our fight is not over.”

During the inaugural Red Bull Indianapolis MotoGP in September 2008, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway generously hosted a charity auction to benefit Riders on Thursday, September 11 preceding the race, where nearly $8,000 was raised in support of Riders work in Africa. Riders is grateful for its partnership with MotoGP and the track owners of the USA rounds. Keep posted to www.redbullusgrandprix.com and www.redbullindianapolisgp.com for tickets and charity auction details in 2009.

Professional fundraiser Lisa Bakker is managing the USA office in Chicago, Illinois. She worked in fund development at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago for six years and then at a family foundation for three years. Bakker is a motorcycle enthusiast and owns a 1978 Honda Hawk.

Bakker said in a recent interview, “If people understand the problems in delivering health care in Africa and then understand Riders’ solution, we will gain support and form partnerships with both large and small corporations and foundations. I would like to see individual support of Riders increase at every level. With America’s increased support, Riders will be better equipped to reach its goals of expanding programs, increasing the number of vehicles and thereby providing reliable transportation for delivery of health care to millions more people in Africa.”

Co-founder Andrea Coleman serves as Riders CEO and has an impressive background in communications and involvement with motorcycles. She was Mamola’s publicist during part of his racing career and was the operations director for Team Castrol Suzuki Herron in the UK in the late 1970s. Coleman’s husband, Barry, is Riders’ executive director and also boasts a lengthy resume. He developed the cost per kilometer (CPK) calculation system for Riders equipment and has a background in journalism that includes work at the BBC and Forbes Magazine.

Ngwarati Mashonga, operations development director, is a business graduate from Zimbabwe with extensive technical expertise. He has six years experience in running a large national-level program with the Zimbabwe Ministry of Health and now specializes in program replication, including training.

Kayode Ajayi, operations performance director, is a Nigerian engineering graduate with 10 years experience in developing and monitoring performance of technical and operational systems. He specializes in systems management and is responsible for quality/performance control of programs.

Mamola’s role includes promoting Riders within the motorcycle industry, namely in MotoGP. At the Day of Champions in Donington Park, he gives rides on the infamous Ducati two-seater MotoGP bike in return for a contribution to Riders. Mamola has been integral in gaining support from other parts of the motorcycle industry as well.

In the coming weeks and months, USA-based Riders for Health II will educate America about its work, support needs, giving impact, and upcoming events. To learn more about Riders, visit www.riders.org or go directly to the USA section at www.riders.org/us