By VeloNews Interactive
On November 25, about 20 Afghani cyclists staged their first bike race in five years after the liberation of the capital city, Kabul. Racing couldn’t happen under Taliban laws, which barred public sports events. In celebration of the fall of Kabul, the cyclists raced about 25 miles from Kabul to the town of Charikar.
Television news reports of the impromptu event inspired viewers in the U.S., and one American in particular was moved to action. Ron Roley, the organizer of a project called Operation Sporthelp, began to ramp up his on-again-off-again operation.
Founded in 1993, Operation Sporthelp’s efforts have taken donations of new and used clothing and equipment and delivered them to needy athletes in Eastern Europe. Roley has focused primarily on cycling, but other sports gear has been delivered as well.
Roley’s most recent project was completed in 2000, when Sporthelp delivered cycling and speedskating equipment that benefited 300 special Olympians in Kazakhstan.
After collecting and cataloging donations, Roley will try to piggyback a shipment with an aid organization, such as the Red Cross, going into Afghanistan.
For more information or to make a contribution to Operation Sporthelp, contact Ron Roley, 850 First Avenue, Raritan, NJ 08869. Phone: 908/541-9624. E-mail: RonRoley@yahoo.com