Trekking for Ethiopian wells

Published 12:23 am Thursday, June 2, 2011

Team Wooha members — Karey Digh and Cam Bumgarner — started their journey at the beach at Nags Head. The trek will carry them to San Francisco. (Submitted Photo)

Two cyclists are trekking across America to help raise money to build wells in Ethiopia.

Karey Digh and Cam Bumgarner, from Charlotte and Shelby, respectively, started their trek early Monday morning from Nags Head. They are scheduled to arrive in San Francisco on Aug. 1, cycling an average of 80 miles per day.

On day two of the trip, they stopped at Acre Station Meat Farm for a meal. They were dripping with sweat and hungry.

They are part of Team Wooha, a network of people who have partnered with Water is Life International and dedicated to using their resources to provide clean drinking water to the people of Ethiopia, where three out of four Ethiopians do not have access to clean water.

Digh went to Ethiopia during the summer of 2010 to assist Water is Life International. Digh said what he saw and experienced changed him forever. While he was there, he helped build a well in the Lake Langano area, an effort that ignited a passion to help relieve the water crisis in Ethiopia.

“It broke my heart to see 3-year-old kids carrying five-gallon jugs of muddy river water back to their villages,” he said. “I can’t imagine not doing anything.”

After returning from Ethiopia, Digh decided to cycle across the United States to help raise money to build the wells in Ethiopia.

“Think about it, 80 percent of all diseases in Africa can be cured with something as simple as clean drinking water,” he said. “We live in a country where water is so accessible we don’t think twice about it or have to put any effort into getting it.”

For several months, Digh and Bumgarner discussed the idea of cycling across the country, figuring out how they could accomplish it. Then, they started planning the trip. And so, Team Wooha was born.

“Karey presented me with the idea of trying to raise money for Water is Life, and we have never looked back,” Bumgarner said. “Life is too short to pass up amazing things like this. I am just glad to be a part of such a wonderful experience.”

“We will be cycling across the United States, educating and motivating people to partner with Water is Life (International) in building wells for the nation of Ethiopia,” Digh said.

Digh said he has always wanted to ride across the United States, but he wanted to do it for a cause, putting his passion for cycling and a desire to help his fellow man together.

“Wooha” is the English pronunciation of the Amharic characters that make up the word “water” in Ethiopia.

Team Wooha is sponsored by several athletics-equipment stores and companies in and around the Charlotte area, such as Run For Your Life shoe store, Teva Footwear, restaurants and Smith Optics, which provided the cyclists with sunglasses for the 4,000-mile journey.

Team Wooha’s goal is to raise $12,000 for Water is Life International.

Digh said $20 provides clean water for one person for 20 years in Ethiopia.

“We actually have two friends who are going to be riding with us for about two or three days,” he said. “We all went to high school together, and we’re best friends. So, this is kind of where we ended up at. Back in 2004, I talked with someone who trekked across America, and it’s always been a dream of mine.”

Jared Taft, Amy Bumgarner and Gray Riley are part of Team Wooha. They provide support services for Digh and Bumgarner.

Digh and Bumgarner may be contacted by email at Team Wooha’s trek across the country may be followed by visiting its website,