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Students embark on treacherous trip

By Jamie Alvord
On September 16, 2013

Instead of the typical summer vacation to the beach, four ASU students took a plane to Mongolia with the mission to experience what everyday life was like for those in need and to raise money for charities. They aimed to see what parts of the world benefit from the support of others.

Ben Fray, Schuyler Sammons, Marc Buchman and Logan Craghead, all ASU students or graduates, teamed up with The Adventurists, an organization responsible for hundreds of individuals worldwide getting involved with fundraising, to take a responsibility and make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate.

The Adventurists, a U.K. based organization, is accountable for inspiring volunteers of all ages and ethnicities with the hopes of having an effect on the world as a whole. The organization is also a sponsor for Cool Earth, a charity whose main goal is to benefit major rainforests around the planet. They require each group raise $750 for their organization, and at least $750 for an organization of their choosing. The Adventurists have raised nearly $6 million for charities around the world since 2004, with students from ASU being a part of that contribution.

Events coordinated by The Adventurists include riding through Siberia on a motorcycle, and, like the event the ASU students participated in, riding for 10,000 miles in the Mongolian desert.

Like most events held, the Mongol Rally’s main idea is to expose participants to situations they’ve never experienced before. To participate, each group must have a car, typically under $275 with no more than a 1 liter tank, and use only what they can carry to trek through complete wilderness.

“All the other cars were breaking down. Our car actually didn’t until the very last day we were on the road. After traveling about 9,000 miles at this point, finally our spring broke in the rear suspension,” Logan Craghead, a senior communication studies major of Alma, Kan., said. “Every bump that we hit, the back of our car would bottom out every single time, which I’m sure was extremely unpleasant for those sitting in the backseat.”

Craghead said in order to fix the car he worked with what he had and used his sandals to fix the spring by zip tying them on.

To prepare for the trip the students held silent auctions and movie nights at The Edge Coffee House beginning in April. Creegan’s Irish Pub, a sponsor of the group’s mission, allowed them to rent a room for free and throw a going away party for the students, also raising money with admission. By August, they had raised well over their expectations.

After supplying Cool Earth with $750, the students chose St. Jude’s as the lucky recipient of more than $2,000. Their next step was to set foot onto a plane in the search of finding out how people, like themselves, make a difference in other cultures.

Their plane left from Memphis on July 8, and landed overseas near Russia. The group drove for nearly 10 days across Mongolia, camping out wherever they pleased due to the lack of land ownership in that part of the continent.

According to theadventurists.com, “It’s not clever, it’s not safe, you might not finish but it is the greatest adventure on the planet and it’s ready and waiting to drop you off a cliff of adventure.”

Luckily for the students, they made it the final 250 miles even after breaking down. After the ride, the car was sold and all proceeds went to benefit the Children’s Advocacy Center in Ulan Bator, the capital of Mongolia.

The group returned to the U.S. on Aug. 28 with a better understanding and personal connection to what life is like in areas that benefit from charities and volunteers.

“I found the trip to be more than what I expected,” Ben Fray, a senior journalism major of Clinton, said. “The one thing that sticks out in my mind is there were good people everywhere we went.”

Fray added he made lifelong friends with a thirst for adventure, which essentially helped the team with their journey.

“It wasn’t just a physical journey, but one of personal growth,” he said.

Craghead said he encourages students to participate in traveling abroad, whether it be studying or charity work.
“The amount of good people you meet throughout the world will outnumber the bad 99 to one,” Craghead said. “Always.”

For more information on The Adventurists and Cool Earth visit www.theadventurists.com and www.coolearth.org.

 

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