KIWL Charity Ride 2024 Report

Date: May, 30, 2024-June 2, 2024
Place:  Shizuoka to Nagano
Participants: 44 KIWL riders, 6 support crew, 3 WildTame video crew, 1 LIT, 5 graduates, 1 Mirai no Mori staff

Excitement filled the air as we celebrated the completion of the long awaited Knights in White Lycra 500km Charity Cycle Ride on June 2nd in Nagano. This marked Mirai no Mori’s fifth charity ride in partnership with KIWL, in which all proceeds raised through this challenging yet rewarding event will go to our life-changing outdoor programs.

Day 1 of the KIWL 500km Charity Cycle Ride kicked off with high spirits as riders- including our Executive Director, Kozue Oka who took on her 5th charity ride- embarked on a 139km journey from Shizuoka to Toyokawa in Aichi prefecture, the longest ride of all 4 days. 

Day 2 brought new challenges as riders tackled the day’s 130km route from Toyokawa to Ena in Gifu prefecture. After a hard day’s ride, all participants enjoyed well-deserved dinner and drinks. Everyone bonded over the difficulties of the first half of the ride and motivated each other for the toughest day of them all- Day 3! 

Day 3 of the ride had beautiful scenery but an arduous route, as our riders journeyed 2000+ meters in elevation- the highest path of the 4 days. As the penultimate day of the ride, riders were feeling it, but their determination continued strong and the clear skies were a great help! 3 graduates welcomed the riders with smiling faces and flags from around the world at the day’s destination. 

Day 4, AKA the final day of the KIWL 500km Charity Cycle Ride, saw our riders embark on the final leg, from Lake Suwa to Nagano. Due to heavy rains and to avoid accidents, there was a change of plans in the middle of the route, but that did not stop anyone from enjoying the welcome party at the finish line, where riders were greeted  by 5 graduates and 1 LIT, who personally thanked the riders for all their dedication towards their futures’ successThe 6 young adults challenged themselves to make speeches about personal experiences with Mirai no Mori and about what they have achieved/would like to achieve in their independent lives outside of the care homes.

 ”Through the LIT program, I gained the ability to reflect on myself and my goals, and have the courage to take on various challenges that I would not have in my daily life. I would like to make use of this way of thinking in my future life as a member of society” by LIT

“At Mirai no Mori I was able to explore my core self. I’ve found that my goal for the future is to fill my surroundings with my favorite things!” by graduate

“I am the first graduate of Mirai no Mori’s LIT program and am now a member of society with a job, so I want to help the children who are shy or lack confidence, as well as LIT juniors. I believe that it is important to continue conveying the great possibilities that Mirai no Mori offers!” by graduate

The 2024  KIWL 500km Charity Cycle Ride has been more than a physical challenge; it’s a testament to our riders’ commitment to making a positive impact. Thank you for following the journey, thank you to our riders for pushing themselves to participate, thank you to our sponsors for supporting us, thank you to our support car drivers and lastly, thank you to all those who donated to raise funds for Mirai no Mori. 

“My goal was to speak English with the Knights about my hobby of running. It is always nice to talk with people who share a lot of the same interests!’ by LIT

“I have had several opportunities to give speeches in the past, but I wanted to give a speech that would reach people’s hearts, so I attended this event! I hope to give a speech that I will be satisfied with, and remember it forever!” by graduate

“Growing up,I had support from so many people, especially from Mirai no Mori. I didn’t really realize it when I was a child, but now that I’m a member of society, I see the importance of that support and am very grateful. Through this event, I was able to meet and talk with many supporters, and express my gratitude in my own words! Thank you very much for your hard work!” by Graduate

“After participating in last year’s ride, I had the opportunity to join the Mirai no Mori rafting program. The one day I spent there with the children left a strong impression on me. Being able to meet the children in person and work together with them was a big motivation for me to make it through this ride!” by a second-time rider

“It was very impressive to see the excitement of the high school students and program graduates I met for the first time at the BBQ hosted by Mirai no Mori. Thanks to the enthusiasm and smiles, I was able to complete my first ride!” by first-time rider.

“More than anything, the real fulfillment for me is to see the riders have a great experience during the ride, and then for everyone to meet the kids for whom we are giving our time, efforts, and donations. Money can’t buy that.”  by KIWL Representative Rob Williams