Rowan native going on “Rickshaw Run” for reading across India

  • Posted: Friday, July 19, 2013 11:05 a.m.

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — A Rowan County native is driving a three-wheeled, glorified lawnmower across India this September to raise money for Indian children’s literacy. Renée Alexander (formerly Menius) is one of an international team of four friends who are undertaking the adventure called the Rickshaw Run.

Her team, the “Reading Rickshaws,” will have two weeks to drive two auto-rickshaws about 2,000 miles across India, on dangerously unkempt roads littered with chaotic traffic and cows, a news release said.

“We’ve been warned that our Rickshaws will break down regularly, and I seem to be the only one on the team who knows how to change a spark plug,” Alexander, the only non-engineer on the team, said the news release. “Thankfully, one of our team members speaks Hindi, and he assures us that rickshaw repairmen are ubiquitous in India, even in the apparently non-existent ‘middle of nowhere.’ ”

Despite dire warnings from anyone who has ever been to India, or lived in India, the team won’t be deterred.

“Sometimes a good story is better than a good time,” said Alexander, who graduated from East Rowan High School, Catawba College, and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and worked at Forsyth Technical Community College before moving to Oregon in 1996. She currently lives in San Francisco, where she met the rest of the international crew, who hail from Nebraska, India, and Vietnam.

As part of their Rickshaw Run adventure, the “Reading Rickshaws” will be raising money and awareness for, a US-based charity that promotes literacy equality in India and beyond. In addition to their goal of raising $10,000, the Reading Rickshaws are planning to visit Room to Read-supported schools and libraries along the way.

The Reading Rickshaws are accepting donations for Room to Read and blogging regularly at . They recently launched a Facebook page at .

Starting in late August, the team will publish a series of five weekly updates with images from the road in India.

For more information about the Rickshaw Run, go to .

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