July 22nd, 2012
Ratanak International & Summer 2012!

From Benjamin Looby, EPIC Team Leader:

Greetings and Salutations to all our supporters and fans!

It's been a while, hasn't it, since we really provided any news or updates for you? The last you heard from us, Invisible Children was unveiling their KONY 2012 campaign, and we were all over that, sharing the documentary and getting excited about Cover the Night!

That was in March of this year. During the past few months, our team has been busy with various things. I, for one, had a busy month and-a-half finishing up my school year, and then this summer I've been working in construction for my co-op job, and that's been keeping me pretty busy. For a little while now, the EPIC team has been struggling a bit with whether or not the trip was still going to happen, due to various personal/financial reasons. Through the past couple weeks we've finally decided that we're giving this our all, and we'll do whatever it takes to accomplish our goals.

That being said, there are a few major changes we've made to the way we're doing the trip, and who we're doing it for.
I (Ben) had originally planned to be one of the Riders during the trip. However, a few months ago, I realized I wouldn't be able to keep up with planning and organizing this trip, training for the Ride, and fundraising for our $60,000 goal*. At least, not with the level of work I have to keep up in order to do well in my program at Conestoga College. So I made the decision to not ride, but instead be the Support Driver and Team Leader for EPIC. This means I have more time to devote to planning the trip and fundraising and that we don't have to worry about who will drive our van during the trip.

Another big change that we made is in who we are supporting during the Ride.
A lot of people will remember that we have been, since 2009, planning to support Invisible Children (IC). That is no longer the case. We are now supporting Ratanak International, a non-profit organization working in Cambodia. This change has come due to a number of reasons, the main one being that we feel our original goals will be difficult to meet in supporting IC. We originally wanted to "raise awareness and funds for Invisible Children" through our cross-Canada tour. With the advent of IC's KONY 2012 campaign, however, they have raised an exceptional level of awareness themselves, and made it clear that their goal of capturing Joseph Kony needs to happen this year (which I believe could very well happen).

Our team reflected on those points and basically came to the conclusion that the awareness-raising for IC was not something we could really add to, and that if Kony was captured in 2012, our trip in 2013 would be perhaps, "too little, too late". While we could raise some money for IC, we felt we'd have a hard time reaching our goal of $60,000*.

Once we realized that, we decided a change of organizations was in order. Ratanak was an easy choice, because we'd already been exposed to what they were doing in Cambodia, through our local church (Forward Church in Cambridge), and because we have friends who are involved with Ratanak already. We also have a desire to stop human trafficking, and help the people of Cambodia, so that is where our focus and interests lie now.

A third change we've made is in how we will distribute our donations. While our goal is still $60,000*, we've decided as a team to give 90% of all donations to Ratanak, and save 10% for our trip expenses. This is only to help us cover the big costs such as gas, food, and accomodations-not personal or recreational expenses. This will make it much easier to launch the trip next summer.*

We realize that a lot of people will have questions and concerns about some of these changes we've made, and we're happy to respond to any of those. There are a variety of ways you can contact us.
- Through Facebook
- On Twitter
- By email: epicridersteam@gmail.com

We'd like to thank all of you who have supported so far over the past few years; your confidence, interest, and enthusiasm in us has been a big help thus far!
Be sure to check our website next week as we'll have even more updates for you!

Keeping it EPIC,

Ben Looby (on behalf of the EPIC Riders team)

*November 18, 2012 edit: Our donation goal and plans have changes. Please refer to our Donate page for up-to-date information on this.