Collecting donations on two wheels
Riding together over a distance of more than 8,000 kilometres—and at nearly 90,000 metres above sea level: Werner, Karsten, Paul, and Caspar Kühnle committed to this struggle for a good cause. The grandfather, father, and two teenagers recently travelled the Camino de Santiago on their racing bikes.
The idea for a charity tour came to Karsten Kühnle (49), a priest in Bad Homburg, Germany, back in 2019 when his son Paul (18) rode the Camino de Santiago with his grandfather Werner (73) on racing bikes. The team for the benefit ride was made complete with Paul’s younger brother Caspar, and a good friend of the family, Klaus Müller (71), who joined in as tour manager.
While the four Kühnles cycled, Klaus saw to everything else from the escort vehicle—and their supporters donated. From 25 July to 17 August the team made its way through Germany, France, and Spain. The aim was to collect donations for emergency aid in Ukraine and for well construction and school education in West Africa.
The tour began in Trier, Germany, but not quite at zero: over 13,000 euros had already accumulated before the start. This motivated everyone to accept the challenge. They set off early in the morning. Parked in front of their accommodations, the team noticed a Ukrainian bus. “Evidently, this was intended to remind us why we should make this trip at temperatures well over 30 degrees Celsius,” said the four. It was an emotional moment.
And it was very hot indeed. And then there were also the mosquitoes to contend with. Already on the second day, Caspar’s rear tire burst. Each of the cyclists had to change a wheel over the course of the tour. But tour captain Werner was able to draw on his rich experience, and was quick to solve these problems. And whenever he got stuck, Klaus was quick to lend a hand with his van full of spare parts and a good air pump.
Speaking of Klaus: the team would have been pretty lost without him. He would get up early every morning and get the bikes ready to go. While the cyclists pedalled along the road, he would prepare the food and fill their drinking bottles. In between, he would wash their jerseys, all the while taking photos. And he was always there to motivate his friends to keep going.
There were times when it was not that easy. Steep inclines, summer heat, and impassable roads turned the tour into an ordeal again and again. Once there was such a violent storm—and a sudden drop in temperature—that Grandpa Werner decided it was time to break off early for the day.
…the four of them made it to their goal
But despite all the setbacks, Klaus, the many donors, and the beautiful landscape along the Camino de Santiago always managed to motivate the cyclists. They visited memorials and enjoyed the sights along the route, met up with other pilgrims, and enjoyed dinner at the guesthouses on the way in the evenings.
Filled with pride, the five reached Santiago de Compostela, Spain on 11 August. They were now able to look back gratefully and proudly on the route they had mastered.
Then, on the penultimate stage of the trip, it happened: Caspar fell off his bike. But after the initial shock had passed, it turned out that he had not been seriously injured. Only his bike was worse for the experience: the gear shift was no longer working properly. For him, the last few kilometres would prove to be a big challenge. But in the end the four cyclists made it: a wave of satisfaction and accomplishment flowed through each one of them when they arrived at their final destination on the Camino de Santiago in Fisterra.
By that day, the donations had already surpassed 37,000 euros. And by the time the charity team returned home, there were about another 10,000 euros waiting for them.
For a good cause
Klaus and Werner, who is a retired Apostle, have been to West Africa more than a few times in the context of their pastoral work for the New Apostolic Church. They are thus well aware of what it means to have access to clean water and the opportunity to go to school there. When war broke out in the Ukraine in 2022, the suffering there touched them so closely that Karsten decided to donate to affected individuals there as well.
Half of the donations for the charity tour will go to human aktiv, the aid organisation of the New Apostolic Church Southern Germany, and the Jörg Wolff Foundation, which was founded in 2004 by a New Apostolic minister. The charity human aktiv used its share for emergency aid in Ukraine.
The Jörg Wolff-Foundation will assist in the construction of wells and schools in West Africa, and support midwives and school teachers there. Some video messages have come back to the team from people in West Africa who are now able to enjoy a brand new well.
Germany, France, Spain, Aid agencies, Social commitment, Congregational life, People/Personalities