Steamboat alumnae raises money for Ecuador earthquake relief | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat alumnae raises money for Ecuador earthquake relief

Steamboat Mountain School alumna and current teacher Emily Colin, left, and alumna Rayna Weiss, created nonprofit PEDAL for Change in 2010, an organization dedicated to experiential learning in Ecuador. After a devastating earthquake hit the country in April, PEDAL for Change has embarked on a $75,000 fundraising campaign to help the area.

— A pair of Steamboat Springs natives aim to raise $75,000 to purchase water filters for devastated areas of rural Ecuador affected by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake in mid-April.

Rayna Weiss, a 2003 Steamboat Mountain School graduate, was working in Ecuador through the nonprofit PEDAL for Change, an organization she started in 2010 with fellow Steamboat Mountain School graduate Emily Colin, when the earthquake struck.

Weiss said areas of coastal Ecuador were completely destroyed, and relief efforts in some areas have been slow, meaning many communities still do not have running water or basic supplies since the earthquake hit April 16.

While PEDAL for Change normally is an organization focused on cultural immersion programs for students and environmental stewardship projects, Weiss said the effects of earthquake were impossible to ignore, and she felt the nonprofit was in a unique position to step up and help.

“With the heart and soul of [PEDAL for Change] bound to these communities and these people, how can we not do everything we can to help?” Weiss said.

Weiss said Colin, a teacher and the chair of PEDAL for Change’s board of directors, is currently in India with Global Immersion Studies students from Steamboat Mountain School, but will be involved in the campaign upon her return.

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PEDAL — People for Environment, Diversity, Action and Learning — has set up a YouCaring page for donations to the campaign, with every $150 purchasing a water filter that can be used on a large bucket or pail to provide filtered drinking water.

“The goal is to buy and distribute 500 water filters to specific communities that have not received proper aid,” Weiss said. “We are specifically concentrated on a community outside of Bahia de Caraquez, where we have taken student groups in the past five years.”

The first $1,000 raised will be used to purchase non-perishable foods and essentials for earthquake survivors in rural areas.

As of Sunday morning, the fundraising page was shared 64 times and had generated $5,336 from 35 donors.

Weiss is trying to spread the word about the fundraiser in her hometown of Steamboat Springs.

“People in Steamboat have been amazing supporters in the past,” Weiss said. “We have a great reputation with the community, and people trust that we will distribute these water filters in the best possible way . . . Strong communities should support communities in need because this is the true meaning of being a global citizen.”

To see the fundraising page, visit youcaring.com and search “PEDAL for earthquake relief.”

To reach Teresa Ristow, call 970-871-4206, email tristow@SteamboatToday.com or follow her on Twitter @TeresaRistow