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Local woman rides for charity

Date: 8/29/2012

By Carley Dangona

WESTFIELD — Starting Sept. 5, resident Karen Hardy will bicycle 500 miles on the Maine coast, over the course of eight days, for her charity Educate Malawi Inc. Along the way, Hardy will speak at three local libraries to raise awareness about her non-profit.

"In 2007, I volunteered with my daughter in Malawi," Hardy said. "For me, the personal experience was the thing that pushed me [to start the charity]. The children we encountered how happy they were were inspiring."

Hardy founded the organization in 2008, with her daughter Shannon and husband Stephen, and serves as president. The goal is to provide educational resources children in Malawi, including scholarships, school supplies and actual construction of classrooms.

"I was really surprised how much they really wanted to go to school — despite the conditions, " Hardy said. "Most of them walked long distances to attend class and many of them were facing hunger too."

While riding, Hardy thinks of the children for motivation. "I'm riding, that's my job today," Hardy stated. "I think about the trip [to Malawi in 2007], and I picture the kids. I ride because that's how I can help them. Their needs don't compare to feeling tired."

For this year's ride, an anonymous donor has volunteered to match the donations of new donors.

"The money goes straight to the kids," Hardy explained. "We're a very small non-profit and we don't have salaries. We use our own money [to meet the operating needs of the charity]."

Initially after visiting Malawi, Hardy struggled with the guilt of how much more she has here in the U.S. "Now I am grateful for the resources that I have because I can use them to help," Hardy said.

For more information about the Educate Malawi Inc. or to donate to Hardy's ride, visit