Alan and Gabriel Wedesweiler were looking for a father and son adventure.
Then along came an “amazing opportunity.”
Alan, 45, and 18-year-old Gabriel, will cycle through Cambodia in January as part of Catholic Mission’s Ride and Stride.
Ride and Stride will raise funds to support Catholic Mission’s ongoing projects in Cambodia, whilst giving participants the ability to witness the projects first hand.
“We’re two simple guys who, in the words of Mary MacKillop, have seen something and we want to do something about it,” Alan told Catholic Outlook.
Alan explained that as well as acting as a father and son bonding moment, the charity ride was a chance to put their faith into action.
“Both of us have got a quite adventurous spirit, and we were looking for a challenge,” Alan said.
“I was reflecting on Bishop Vincent’s words about ‘pushing out into the deep’ and going to those on the margins of society.
“I’ve always had a lot to do with Catholic Mission in the schools that I’ve been involved with, and when this opportunity for Cambodia came up, I looked at it and thought ‘this is a really amazing opportunity to be witnessing projects in action but also faith in action as well.’
“Gabriel and I had always done things together, and as he finished Year 12 last year, we thought ‘what’s something we can do together’, and this came up and he said ‘Dad, I’d love to do it with you,’” Alan said.
In preparation for the physical challenges of the ride, including trekking through forests and cycling upwards of 50km a day, Alan and Gabriel are using their Blue Mountains backyard as the perfect training grounds.
“We’re very fortunate in where we live. I’m working in Katoomba, so after work, quite often, I will go on a bushwalk, and with Gabriel on the weekends, we’ll do longer treks and we carry weighted backpacks to simulate what it will be like,” Alan explained.
“We’re tackling steep climbs as well as riding, so it’s easy to find hills to ride up here in the Blue Mountains to get that fitness,” he laughed.
Alan said that he is looking forward to seeing how their fundraising efforts will impact the people of Cambodia.
“I’m most looking forward to this incredible Cambodian adventure, getting to know the Khmer culture, the countryside, meeting the people, seeing the projects in action and being able to report back to people on what those projects are doing for people.
“We’re really excited to see exactly where the money that is being raised for Catholic Mission, who it’s going to benefit, and how they’re benefitting from that.
“’[Also] the opportunity to travel with my son, to do something father and son. As daggy as it will be spending 15 days travelling with your dad, I’m really looking forward to it, and I know Gabe is as well.”
Alan and Gabriel have already felt the love and support of their local parish, Our Lady of the Nativity, Lawson, and the school community of St Canice’s Primary School, Katoomba, where Alan teaches.
“A lot of parents have said ‘yes, we will support you, we will donate,’ so that’s been fantastic,” Alan said.
“I know that the very generous people in Lawson and our Katoomba parish here at the school will certainly take their faith beyond the border as well and support us.
“Every cent doesn’t go to us, it goes straight to Catholic Mission and straight to the Cambodian people.
“We know that the beautiful people here will be really supportive of taking up Bishop [Vincent] Long’s message of ‘going out into the deep.’”
Alan hopes that the fundraiser will have a lasting impact, both in Cambodia, and in their local community.
“We want to make a difference by not only visiting Cambodia and the mission projects, but also taking a part of the Mountains with us, and the support and love from the Mountains people and the Parramatta Diocese, to make that difference in someone else’s life.
“For Gabe and I, this is about mission in action. The way we’re seeing it, it’s going to be a generational way, because the help the people of the Parramatta Diocese are giving via us to Catholic Mission – it happens right now, but also it’s helping the next generation in Cambodia.
“It’s not just a once-off thing. We would like this to be an ongoing opportunity, and in the future, if we can support other people and travel with other people from the Parramatta Diocese, we’d love to do that – to engage in that mission where we can proclaim our faith through words and actions.”
Alan and Gabriel will be participating in Catholic Mission’s Ride and Stride: Cambodia 2020 from 10 to 20 January 2020.
If you wish to donate, please visit https://www.mycause.com.au/page/208072/al-gabes-2020-cambrodia-ride-and-stride or contact Alan via email – firstname.lastname@example.org