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Bears Beyond Borders: Alumni raising money for bicycle charity

Consortium alumni Jean-Marc Chanoine and Juan Casanova are traveling the world on a mission. The recent University of California, Berkeley, graduates join Bears Beyond Borders, participating in the Charity Race to support World Bicycle Relief.

This Mongol Rally is a race in which more than 300 teams from around the world will attempt to drive woefully small cars from London to Mongolia over the course of six weeks. Why would these two do such a thing? The reason is philanthropic: The Mongol Rally was originally created with the idea of delivering ambulances to Mongolia.

This year, each team gets to select a charity that is near and dear to their hearts. Chanoine and Casanova have chosen World Bicycle Relief. WBR is an organization that builds specifically designed, locally assembled bicycles for students, health care workers and entrepreneurs across Africa, South America and Southeast Asia. In many areas throughout Africa, it takes eight hours per trip to collect water than only lasts a day or two.

Mia “La Picante” Kia

The guys have transformed a boring white Kia Picante into the undeniably fierce and foxy Mia “La Picante” Kia. “We’ve reinforced our suspension for bumpy times ahead and installed a steel sump guard to defend against Mongolia’s malicious rocks, infamous for puncturing unfortified oil wells. Our Kia Mia has also been dressed to the nines in beautiful graphics, turning our one-liter tire burner into a bona fide head turner. For the cherry on top, we put ‘Barry the Bear,'” stated Chanoine, a tip of the hat to the mascot of UC Berkeley. Barry the Bear is Bears Beyond Borders’ mascot and has been chained to the roof of the Kia Mia.

At our last communications, Chanoine and Casanova were en route to Dover, England, where they were catching a ferry to Calais, France and continuing on to Brussels. After completing this 10,000-mile trek to Mongolia, Chanoine, Casanova and Barry the Bear will be changed forever by a mission to make others’ lives better. What are you doing this summer?

Additional rally information and how you can support this community improvement project can be found at

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