“Let’s organize a motorcycle ride to this conference every year, and if we’re going to do that, why don’t we try raising money?”
More than 10 years ago, shared careers in the water sector and enthusiasm in motorcycles led to this back-of-a-napkin idea that formed Ride With Purpose – or the Water Buffalos.
The Water Buffalos participate in annual motorcycle charity rides. Starting from locations across Canada, Mexico, and U.S., they meet up as a “herd” at numerous conferences, workshops, and tradeshows throughout the year.
The biggest of these events is the American Water Works Association’s Annual Conference and Exhibition (“ACE”), which takes place in a different city every June. These water industry experts from across North America plan routes and converge together on their motorcycles in the city hosting the conference – all while raising money to support Water For People’s mission of safe water and sanitation services across the world.
For Gareth Price, the Water Buffalos’ current president, it’s a lot of work to organize these rides. But for him, the effort is worth it.
“When you can turn on a tap you just shrug… but imagine somewhere there isn’t even a tap,” Gareth shares. “You truly understand how fortunate we are.” Gareth works in the water sector, and after attending industry conferences, came to learn about the Water Buffalos – and through them, Water For People. For Gareth, it’s significant that the cost of a coffee in North America is the same as giving a family water for a day. He also thinks about the implications for a society when there is no reliable, safe water available.
“When water is of limited availability, you end up with an undereducated population that is just trying to meet their most basic needs,” he says “Health is lost, opportunity for education is lost. People become trapped in a cycle and nothing moves forward.”
The Water Buffalos pay their own way through gas, vacation days, and trip expenses. Since their start in 2005, the Water Buffalos have together used over 1,000 of their vacation days for these rides, covered over 472,000 miles on bikes, and raised over $1 million for safe water.
Since they pay their own expenses, the Buffalos are able to provide more support to Water For People’s programming with the money they fundraise through hosting raffles, poker competitions, beer events and by securing corporate sponsorships. As they ride into conferences, or walk the exhibit hall floors, the Water Buffalos can be easily spotted wearing jean vests that proudly showcase sponsor logos in the form of patches.
In June 2019, ACE is taking place in Denver, and Gareth has big plans for the Water Buffalos’ ride in.
“My goal for this year is to get as many riders to join us for the two-hour ride into Denver as possible,” shares Gareth. “They don’t need to be official Buffalos – but I hope to hit 100 riders.”
Gareth loves riding with the herd on a new road - feeling the air and the freedom of riding. When you add that it’s all for a great cause, it doesn’t get much better for these Water Buffalos.