Tag Archives: RIDETZ

Busy Busy

30 May

By Kaitlin Rogers

Life in the States has been even busier than usual as we prepare for RIDETZ, run the Annual Fund, and work on a surprise that we will finally share with you in the next few days! Meghann is en route to Tanzania now, and I leave on Monday. The RIDETZ excitement and influx of photos is about to begin. In the meantime below are some glimpses into our days:

From left to right: Gretchen and Mike’s boys sport their homemade RIDETZ shirts at their fundraising event; accumulating RIDETZ goodies from our sponsors; spending lots to time in FLYWHEEL classes in preparation for RIDETZ; the raffle table at Gretchen and Mike’s fundraiser; Meghann found time to ride a bike during her layover in London (true dedication!); Gretchen, Mike, and I went for a long ride; presents for the kiddos; one of our amazing sponsors; boxes of schwag for the riders; a very full cart of clothes for the kids; an incredible view of Mt. Kilimanjaro from Meghann’s airplane window on her way to Tanzania this morning; Meghann’s layover in Nairobi.

Hope you’re having a good week after the long weekend!


Meet RIDETZ Rider, Miller Bianucci

22 May

Miller (left) with her sister, Macon (right)

By Miller Bianucci and Kaitlin Rogers

You may remember first reading about Miller and the entire Bianucci Family in this post. There is something special about this family. Their sense of adventure, their commitment to service, and their willingness to tackle huge challenges have lead them to Tanzania year after year, and their dedication to TFFT is something for which we are extremely grateful. I first met Miller when she along with her sister Macon and their parents, Henri and Susan, rode in RIDETZ in 2010. We are beyond excited to have Miller along with us for the 2nd RIDETZ journey. I know I will rely on her positive attitude and steadfast determination to help me through!

1)            Where are you from?

My family is from Chicago but we have lived in Charleston, SC for the past fifteen years.

2)            What do you do for work?

I just finished my freshman year at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. I’m studying Social Anthropology, Sustainable Development, and Modern History. I am so thankful to Meghann for encouraging me to look into St. Andrews. This year abroad has hands down been the best of my life and I’m so excited for the next three.

3)            What do you like to do on your spare time?

During middle and high school I was on the track and cross-country teams and have continued to run over here (when its not raining or hailing!). My goal is to run a marathon next year, so I’m preparing for that.

4)            Who is your inspiration in life?

I have to say that Meghann Gunderman is my inspiration and role model. I am so impressed with the amazing job Meghann has done with the Foundation of course, but also her amazing attitude and determination. I am inspired every day by Meghann’s dedication to the children of TFFT and am so lucky to have a mentor like Meghann in my life. Her selfless determination to provide education for these orphaned or abandoned children is remarkable.

Richard, Meghann, Miller, Emily, Lauren, and Macon (RIDETZ 2010)

5)            How did you hear about RIDETZ?

My family and I have been volunteering at the Nkoragana Orphanage in Arusha for the past six years and we’ve been fortunate enough to become involved with TFFT. We are so thankful to TFFT for providing scholarships for the children we’ve grown to know and love. When my sister and I heard about RIDETZ two years ago we convinced my parents to join us in this adventure we knew we couldn’t pass up.

Miller with Mary, TFFT Scholarship Student

6)            What inspired you to want to ride this June?

RIDETZ 2010 was, while it was incredibly physically grueling, the most amazing experience of my life. I have never before pushed myself so hard; steep inclines, deep dust and mud, and rocky down hills made quite a challenging course. I will never forget reaching the top of a hill and seeing the Indian Ocean just about a mile away below me. Completing the ride with such a wonderful group of people was a great achievement and accomplishment.  ‘A labor of love’ is the perfect description of this trip and I can’t wait for round two.

Miller (right) with Macon (left) at the BEACH!! Final day RIDETZ 2010

7)            What kind of bike do you train on? Does it have a name?

Sad to say that I don’t have a bike, the only training I’ve done thus far has been in a gym or spinning class!

8)          What unique ways are you planning on spreading the awareness for what you are doing and fundraising?

I’m reaching out to all of my family and friends asking for their support. I plan to have a spinning class fundraiser at my sister’s gym as soon as I get home to raise more funds and awareness in the Charleston area.


Thanks Miller! You can support Miller in her fundraising initiative here. You have now met all the riders, with the exception of the TFFT STUDENT RIDER!!! We will announce this lucky winner shortly.

The next couple of weeks are crazy for the U.S. TFFT Team (a.k.a. Meghann and Kaitlin). Meghann leaves for Tanzania early next week, and I leave on June 4th. Oy! There is a LOT to do between now and then. If there is something in particular that you would like to read about over the next few weeks, let us know, and we’ll factor that into our blog planning! (Who do you want to hear from? What are you curious about? Anything!)

Meet RIDETZ Rider Ben Bourne

9 May

By Kaitlin Rogers and Ben Bourne, RIDETZ Rider

On this wonderful Wednesday, you get to meet another wonderful rider. Through Meghann, I have been lucky to get to know Ben well over the past year and a half. He is the kind of person who makes just any experience better. He is a blast to be around and making sure everyone is having a good time is always his top priority. He also has one of the biggest hearts of anyone I know. His generosity never ceases to amaze me. We are so fortunate that Ben is joining us for the 2012 RIDETZ experience. Enjoy his thoughtful responses and make sure you read all the way through… there is a surprise at the end that will blow you away!

1)            Where are you from?

I was originally born in Florida, but our family moved to Charlotte when I was three years old, so the times growing up in Charlotte and seeing the city transform so dramatically over the years has been a wonderful thing to experience. Although I travel quite a bit and have lived in many other places in my years, it will always be a special feeling to come back “home”.

2)            What do you do for work?

I have been an entrepreneur at heart ever since I can remember.  Around 2000, I moved back to South Florida to start a real estate firm at the age of 22 that designed, built, and redeveloped townhomes, condos, and estate homes throughout Fort Lauderdale, Miami, and Palm Beach. I have invested  in specialty pharmaceutical, medical device, biotechnology and service segments of the healthcare arena for over 12 years. I also have several holding companies that have interests in everything from large private equity funds throughout the US and Europe to nightclubs to a full line of award winning Sake and liquors, TY KU.

To put it simply, I really enjoy starting or buying/investing in businesses with family and close friends and helping them reach their full potential. I love seeing them become what we all had dreamed they could be. Working in such a diverse arena enables me to meet people of all walks of life from around the world, many who have become dear, dear friends.

3)            What do you like to do on your spare time?

I love to travel. Growing up, I was fortunate enough to experience mission trips to Guatemala City, Guatemala and Madras, India. Having the opportunity to help the orphaned and hurting children of Mexico and Brazil brought me to my knees. I had never seen the pain that existed throughout the world, and to see it at such a young age helped mold me and pushes me to become more involved and to appreciate the multitude of blessings we are afforded here in the US.

I also enjoy tennis, skiing, golf (although my game has a mind of its own some days), deep sea fishing for some underwater beasts (Marlin/Sailfish ideally) and sweating it out in the gym when I can forget the worries of the day and just push myself as hard as possible.

I am happiest when I can wake to the sound of crashing waves and the smell of the ocean. The Italian coast, the Greek Isles, St. Barts, seem to me as close to heaven as there is.

4)            Who is your inspiration in life?

There are several people who have helped shape me as a person. My parents were separated when I was still at a young age and I chose to live with my father. He helped me through many ups and downs as the years went on, and showed me the value of how blessed I was, the countless opportunities I was given.  He taught me the humble satisfaction to never forget those without the same opportunities and to help give them the ability and chance to succeed against what sometimes may seem to be unconquerable odds. My mother is also a dear person in my life with a kind and caring heart.

Me with my dad

My older brother is one of the most passionate and loving brothers one could ask for, as has one of the best business minds I know. He has always lifted me up when I’ve been down, always been someone I could battle the world against. He has always had my back no matter what. He has a wonderful wife and two gorgeous and loving children. I can’t tell you how nice it is to have them in my life.

Me with my niece and nephew, Fairbanks and Mary Pope

5)            How did you hear about RIDETZ?

My family has known Meghann Gunderman, The Foundation For Tomorrow’s Founder, for many years. When she first approached us with her idea of starting a new foundation, we fell in love with her undying passion for helping build a system in Tanzania to help empower these beautiful kids. We decided as a family to help her build the program, if even in the littlest ways.

This past February, after many years of wanting to see her work firsthand, I embarked on what turned out to be the most special trip of my lifetime. There are no words to describe the joy I felt as I first embraced the children I had heard so much about over the years. It was amazing to be surrounded by their unconditional love and the most stunning and beautiful smiles I have ever seen. It was a special thing to meet children we have sponsored over the years for the first time and to see how much TFFT has done to further them in life and reaching their goals.

Finally meeting Dickson after years of sponsorship

6)            What inspired you to want to ride this June?

Kaitlin Rogers, who traveled with Meghann to photograph the first RIDETZ two years ago, published a book entitled 400 miles. I simply could not put it down. Picture after picture, image after breathtaking image. It was something I had to do. My friends who took part in 2010 said it was hands down the experience of a lifetime. I knew I had to do it. I wanted to experience the challenge both mentally and physically and to see this beautiful country while pushing my body to its limits.

7)            Are you celebrating any milestone with RIDETZ?

Although I rode a bit when I was younger, I have just recently fell in love with biking again. I love to be active, but have never been much of a runner. The challenge itself, the training it requires, knowing the kids who will benefit from the awareness of our journey from Mt. Kilimanjaro to the Indian Ocean are all my motivation. When I dive into those clear waters after ten grueling days I hope it will be one of the most satisfying moments of my life.

8)            What is your favorite place to ride? (besides Tanzania that is)

I lived in Miami for several years. Waking up on any given day, riding down miles and miles of sandy beaches, sun beating down on me, seeing the multitude of cultures thriving, and the history of the city itself was such a special thing. Pulling up to a spot on the water after a morning ride, not saying a word, just staring at the ocean feeling the burn–what an unbelievable moment.

9)            What kind of bike do you train on? Does it have a name?

I currently have a Pinnarello road bike. Living in downtown Charlotte, I love hopping on the elevator and just getting on it and going. She is referred to as the “beast motivator.” Long story for another time.

I am also training at a spin place here in town that I have fallen in love with… great instructors, good music, really gets the blood flowing. TFFT held a fundraiser there a few weeks ago which was my first time, but I’ve been back many times since. It’s nice to feel my body building strength and endurance each and every time.

In addition I weight train 4-5 times a week at Just Fit training studios with a close friend who started it a few years back. It seems to be a good balance of cardio and strength training to prepare me for our journey this summer.

10)          What unique ways are you planning on spreading awareness and fundraising?

Being as I am not as die hard rider as some of my friends, I have promised countless pictures and videos to those who will help support my ride. I have setup a page on crowdrise, reached out to friends and family, and I will be offering an all-expense paid trip to Tanzania to see firsthand the unbelievable things TFFT is doing on the ground to the person who helps raise the most money towards my cause.


YES, you read that correctly… an ALL-EXPENSE PAID trip to TANZANIA for the person who helps Ben raise the most money. To enter, you can create your own page through Ben’s Tanzania Challenge Page and reaching out to your network for support (once you’re on the page, just click JOIN THE TEAM) OR you can make a single donation on his fundraising page. The person who generates the most funds (either through a single personal donation OR through the combined total of donations collected from friends and family for the challenge) will be the lucky winner of an all-expense paid trip to Tanzania to see TFFT’s work. For more details, email Kaitlin@TheFoundationForTomorrow.org. Told you it would be a WONDERFUL Wednesday :)

Meet RIDETZ Rider, Kaitlin Rogers

3 May

By Kaitlin Rogers

Today I get to introduce myself as one of the RIDETZ riders. Over the past two years I have had the joy of getting to know The Foundation For Tomorrow, and I have RIDETZ to thank for that. It is amazing to think that if it weren’t for that 400 mile bike ride in 2010 I may not even know about this organization that has since become my whole world. I don’t even want to think about that :) You can see my responses to the interview questions below.

Me with my sisters, Caroline (right) and Maggie (left)

Me with some of my cousins in Door County, Wisconsin


1) Where are you from?

I am from Lake Bluff, a northern suburb of Chicago that I lovingly refer to as my favorite place in the world. I do believe that this tiny town where I grew up surrounded by family is an extremely special place.

The center of town


2) What do you do for work?

I work for The Foundation For Tomorrow. A few weeks into my new job, I shared with my family that I couldn’t fall asleep at night because I was so excited to wake up in the morning to get to work. Perturbed, my youngest sister Maggie rolled her eyes and declared that that was just not normal. I may be annoyingly excited about my job, but I cannot imagine waking up in the morning with a more meaningful sense of purpose.


3) What do you like to do on your spare time?

I love being with my family and friends. I also love photography, and I still do some freelance work (I left my job at a photography studio to work for TFFT). Yoga keeps me sane, and I can get lost in a stationary store for hours.





4) Who is your inspiration in life?

I was lucky to grow up with many wonderful role models and mentors. My parents’ unconditional love and support has instilled in me a sense of confidence and the ambition to follow my heart. I’m not sure that one person has been my inspiration, but I know that I am inspired every time I see someone working for something they believe in.

The way my sister Maggie dances inspires me. The way my sister Caroline is working so hard to become a physical therapist inspires me. My friends who wake up every day and teach a classroom full of students through Teach For America inspire me. The way nothing gets in between Marc and some time on the ice to play hockey inspires me. Getting to work beside Meghann every day inspires me. I believe in surrounding myself with people who work hard for their goals. I think that is the best source of inspiration.

Maggie’s dancing feet


5) How did you hear about RIDETZ?

My senior year of college I was working for Tamara Lackey Photography. I had spent two previous summers working in Tanzania through a Duke Engage program called Literacy Through Photography. I was planning to return for a third summer when Meghann contacted Tamara in search of a photographer for RIDETZ 2010. I was already planning to be in Tanzania during the ride, and accepting this unique photography opportunity was a no-brainer.


RIDETZ 2010, Me, Miller Bianucci, Meghann, and Macon Bianucci


6) What inspired you to want to ride this June?

While I was along for the first RIDETZ experience, I never actually got on a bike! I traveled by safari car as I documented the riders’ experience with my camera. I did feel kind of guilty, though, as I jumped around fresh faced and sat relaxed in the van while the riders expended every bit of energy they had and then some. It was the riders’ perseverance that inspired my desire to tackle RIDETZ. Watching them conquer this amazing challenge made me desperately want the same sense of achievement. My boyfriend Marc agreed to join me for the adventure, and that sealed the deal.

Always jumping

Me and Marc


7) Are you celebrating any milestone with RIDETZ?

I’m not celebrating any milestone, but I’m celebrating an incredible cause, a beautiful country, and the fact that I’m able to take on this endeavor.

8) What is your favorite place to ride? (besides Tanzania that is)

Hmm… spin class or anyplace with a bike path… all this street riding in Charlotte gets me nervous. Navigating the Tanzanian terrain should be—err—interesting. Let’s just say that I’m in this for the cause and the experience, biking is not exactly my forte.

9) What kind of bike do you train on? Does it have a name?

So far my white Diamondback has done the trick.

10) What unique ways are you planning on spreading the awareness for what you are doing and fundraising?

I am planning to use my photography as a fundraising tool. I’m going to offer some donation sessions in Charlotte in addition to reaching out to family and friends for support. To support my fundraising efforts, please visit my fundraising page.

Meet RIDETZ Rider Marc Perez

26 Apr

By Kaitlin Rogers and Marc Perez

Today’s rider gets a special introduction because I get to write the intros and Marc is my boyfriend. After listening to me talk ad nauseam for years about Tanzania and the kids and TFFT and RIDETZ, this June Marc will see with his own eyes what all the fuss is about. I could not be more excited to share this experience with him, but I’ll save that for when it’s my turn for the interview!

He’ll be mortified by the model shot below, but whatever. I’m a photographer, and I think he’s nice to look at :)

1) Where are you from? 

I was born in Pittsburgh, PA but have been on the move since then, having lived in Brussels, Belgium twice, the UK, Miami, and Durham and Chapel Hill, NC. Starting this summer though, I’m excited to call Charlotte my new home.

2) What do you do for work?

Most of my work in centered in pharmaceutical distribution, bringing products from Latin America to the US and vice versa.

3) What do you like to do on your spare time? 

I’m an avid sports fan, and I’ve an always loved hockey and played growing up and through college. Now, I try to stay on the ice 2-3 times a week in adult hockey leagues. I’m also big golfer and very quickly becoming a cycling enthusiast. I’ll also take any chance I can get to travel to new places.


4) Who is your inspiration in life?

My parents have always been my example in life.

Me with my parents and sister, Sara

5) How did you hear about RIDETZ?

Two years ago, I saw my girlfriend Kaitlin’s incredible photography in 400 Miles, a book that captured the 2010 RIDETZ.

6) What inspired you to want to ride this June?

Two of my favorite activities are travel and athletic competition. When I heard about RIDETZ, I was hooked by the opportunity to combine global travel and an athletic challenge.

There’s much more to my decision to participate RIDETZ though. Over the past two years, I’ve been fortunate to see the work of The Foundation for Tomorrow stateside and I can’t wait to see the operation on the ground. My introduction into the organization has been my incredible girlfriend, Kaitlin. Tanzania and TFFT have had an enormous impact on her and for the past couple of years, she has raved about what an inspiring and transformational experience she had on the first ride. RIDETZ seemed like an amazing thing to do together, and I cannot wait to get to share this experience with her.

Me and Kaitlin

TFFT's Annual SOS Gala, November 2011

7) Are you celebrating any milestone with RIDETZ?

Nope… only my first trip to Tanzania.

8) What is your favorite place to ride? (besides Tanzania that is)

I’m pretty new to the cycling world, so I ride wherever I can. Right now, I am mostly cruising around the streets of Charlotte and other places around North Carolina.

9) What kind of bike do you train on? Does it have a name?

I rock a Diamondback.

10) What unique ways are you planning to fundraise?

I’m having a couple of bar nights with friends to raise money and going to friends and family for support.

My college roommates

To support Marc in this effort, go here. We’ll be back with a new post on Monday!

Meet RIDETZ rider, Barry Byrd

18 Apr

By Barry Byrd, RIDETZ rider

Today you get to meet Mr. Barry Byrd. He is quite the character, and we are excited for the humor and great energy he’ll bring to the trip. After first hearing about the ride he later admitted he just couldn’t get it out of his head, and he then expressed that his only concern about the ride was whether it would be challenging enough. He told us he didn’t want to “get bored.” Oh, Barry, trust us… there won’t be a dull moment!

Where are you from?

Born and raised in Southern California currently residing in Charlotte, North Carolina.

What do you do for work?

I start, invest in, and attempt to grow businesses. I do this with varying degrees of failure and success.

What do you like to do on your spare time?

Being outdoors with the family.  We are avid skiers of both of the frozen and melted varieties. Spending winters in the Sierra Nevada and House-boating on Lake Powell in the summer are our two favorites.

Who is your inspiration in life?

My father who taught me the value of hard work but also showed me how to live and die with dignity and no regrets.  A tall mountain to climb.

How did you hear about RIDETZ?

I met Meghann Gunderman at a social event and was immediately drawn to what she was doing.  After a number of conversations and a meeting where I peppered her with questions for better then an hour, I was sold.

What inspired you to want to ride this June?

The work that TFFT is doing combined with a physical challenge was too tempting.  I had to do it.

Are you celebrating any milestone with RIDETZ?

50th birthday

What is your favorite place to ride? (besides Tanzania that is)

Redlands California down the Santa Ana River Trail to the Pacific Ocean.

Sentimental Favorite: Riding from Ground Zero to the Pentagon on the second anniversary of 9/11 with disabled and able bodied athletes from 30 countries.

What kind of bike do you train on? Does it have a name?

I ride a 2010 Trek Madone 6.9

Her name is PAM (Pain Applied Manually)

Thanks, Barry! What a great way to ring in 50. We can’t wait to ride with you!

Sorry the blog has been light this week, we’ve been consumed with Annual Fund preparations… but they’re all signed, sealed, and (soon to be) delivered! We are hopeful about the success of this year’s campaign! We have a great Full Circle video coming your way tomorrow and another essay from Nancy coming on Monday.

Meet RIDETZ rider, Eugene Park

12 Apr

By Eugene Park, RIDETZ rider

Today we introduce you to Eugene, who decided to join us for RIDETZ a few short weeks ago. Luckily he is an avid mountain biker, so he is already in good riding condition. His passion for riding and philanthropy have both shown through as we’ve gotten to know Eugene over email. We are so grateful for your enthusiasm and support, and we’re excited to ride with you, Eugene!

Where are you from?

I am from Charlotte, NC.

What do you do for work?

I work for my dad at K.Park and Associates. We own a self-service car wash and have one commercial real estate property. It it a family business.

What do you like to do on your spare time?

I LOVE Mountain Biking. I bike at least 3 to 4 times a week. Since I began mountain biking last May, I have biked over 2000 miles on trails and gotten 2 new bikes. I like going to the gym to work out, going to see live music, and hanging out with friends. I also enjoy going to church regularly as well and doing bible study with my good friend. I also enjoy doing volunteer for my church, St.Mark’s Lutheran Church on Queens Rd. I was baptized there on 8/8/10!

My NC State boys, good buddys from college... Matt, John, Matt, and George!

Me with my good buddy Matt and his 2 at a Panthers game

My good buddy Matt's son Lowe, aka "Meatball," loves UNCLE GENO! He is my favorite toddler!

I also celebrated one year of sobriety on 3/27/12. God is Good. Very blessed to have the family and friends who love and care about me so much.

My good friends, Marcus, Sara, Matt, and Natalie at PStone celebrating my 1 year of sobriety!


Who is your inspiration in life?

The inspiration in my life is God and Jesus Christ. My father, mother, and brother are true inspirations too!

How did you hear about RIDETZ?

I heard about RIDETZ from Meghann on The Foundation for Tomorrow’s Facebook page.

What inspired you to want to ride this June?

I of course love riding…. but its such a great cause, and I have never traveled or done anything outside the country since going to Seoul, South Korea for my grandmother’s funeral in 1987.

My good buddy Ben Bourne told me about how he fell in love with Africa after visiting recently….his stories  just inspired me more. He told me he sponsors a couple students and when he asks them what they want, they tell him they want books. They are so hungry for knowledge and do not care as much about material things. That is awesome, very touching and shows the character and true hearts of these wonderful children. It just wanted to get me more involved!

Me and Ben Bourne, my good buddy who had inspired me so much about Africa and the kids!


What is your favorite place to ride? (besides Tanzania that is)

I have  a few favorite trails I love to ride here in the Charlotte area: The Whitewater Center, Lake Norman State Park, Sherman Branch, and Uwharrie National Forest!

What kind of bike do you train on? Does it have a name?

I have a Specialized Stumpjumper FSR Comp 29er full suspension bike! No name for my bike, although many people call Stumpjumpers “Stumpys.”

My Specialized Stumpjumper FSR Comp 29er full suspension bike... The bad boy I train on.


What unique ways are you planning on spreading the awareness for what you are doing and fundraising?

I am new to fundraising, but Meghann told me she would help me out with getting a website set up, tips, tricks, etc. I plan to use Facebook, Twitter and email all my friends to get them involved and raise awareness!

Thank you, Eugene!! We hope to get in a few rides with you in Charlotte before starting the adventure in Tanzania! Are you up for some 6am Flywheel classes with us?

You can follow Eugene’s fundraising efforts here. Next week we’ll introduce the next rider and share an awesome video our former Full Circle Program Director, Adam, put together of the kids!