Man pedals around the world
Chelala arrives in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, USA on 10 August. Photo courtesy of Chelala
Jean-Gabriel Chelala is out to set a record as the first person to circumnavigate the globe using human power – and he is sharing his inspiration with Rotarians along the way.
Braving 17-foot waves, 35-knot winds, and an encounter with a whale that destroyed his rudder, the 27-year-old civil engineer journeyed 65 days across the Atlantic Ocean in a 27-foot pedal boat. Landing on the Caribbean island of Saint Martin, Chelala was short on funds and looking for friends. A director of a marina referred him to the Rotary Club of Saint-Martin Nord, Guadeloupe, French West Indies.
"I am really proud to talk with people like Rotarians because they think with their hearts, and they use their hands to make the world better," Chelala said.
Chelala spoke to the club, describing his journey and message of the strength of the human body and spirit. Rotarians were so impressed, they named him an ambassador of their club.
Chelala continued on his journey to Puerto Rico, where he met John Richardson, assistant governor of District 7000 (Puerto Rico), who was also inspired by Chelala's determination and positive message.
"After spending a couple of hours with Jean-Gabriel talking about his quest, we concluded that he should connect to [Rotary's] global network and share his message, which is so much like our own," said Richardson. "An ordinary person armed with the strength of his conviction can pedal around the globe in much the same way as, [with] Rotary, ordinary people do extraordinary things."
Chelala has since added stops at several U.S. Rotary clubs to his itinerary, including the Rotary Club of Chicago. He plans to begin the next 22,000-mile leg of his journey by bicycle from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to Alaska on 11 September.
Chelala began his journey in Paris on 13 January, bicycling 1,375 miles to the South of Portugal. He continued by pedal boat to Morocco and the Canary Islands, eventually crossing the Atlantic and landing in Saint Martin.
He will complete his journey by cycling through the contiguous United States, Canada, and Alaska, crossing the Bering Sea and Siberia, and returning to Paris.
Richardson reports that Chelala now carries a Make Dreams Real pin with him. "To say the least, he is a very special guy," said Richardson.
Visit Chelala's Web site at http://www.jeangabrielchelala.com/