Weston Resident Raising Money for Afghani Women by Biking from NYC to Boston

Ellen Freeman Roth at the Pan Mass Challenge

Today, one Weston resident will be hitting the road–on her bicycle–to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the events of 9/11. Ellen Freeman Roth, Conservation Commissioner and amazing person, will be participating in the Beyond the Bike ride from the 9/11 Memorial in Lower Manhattan all the way back to Needham, the home of a widow of one of the victims of that day.

Beyond the 11th, a 501c3 organization, began as a 9/11 widow’s response to unspeakable loss. Susan Retik’s husband David was killed on the first plane to hit the World Trade Center. Susan, with two young children and pregnant with her third, was buoyed by the outpouring of love and support she received from friends and strangers.  In grieving and working to understand the roots of 9/11, Susan learned that widows in Afghanistan, the training ground for the 9/11 terrorists,  lose all resources and social standing.  Moreover, they have no insurance or safety net, and 85% are illiterate. The cycle is self-perpetuating as their children then have no access to education.

Afghanistan ranks as the worst place in the world to be a woman (Time magazine, Dec. 8, 2018). After decades of war, terrorism, and insurgency, women and children suffer disproportionately.  Susan’s effort to heal led her to help her peers in Afghanistan. She, along with another 9/11 widow Patti Quigley, established Beyond the 11th, an organization that provides more than $1 million in grants to help Afghan widows develop sustainable livelihoods, thereby supporting their families and educating their children. Now more than ever, these grants are critical to the women of Afghanistan.  In addition, Beyond the 11th’s partner organizations (CARE and Razia’s Ray of Hope, the latter where Quigley now works) are working to help women, especially female heads of household, in the short- and long-term.


“Riders leave on Friday morning, and while the first day is mostly getting out of Manhattan and the Bronx, we soon meet the hills of Connecticut–there are too many of those,” says Roth. 

While other fundraising rides she does (Pan Mass Challenge, Alzheimer’s) are quite large, this is a smaller group [capped at 45 riders]. “I would say that the time together is more intimate, and the experience is poignant yet also fun.”

If you would like to support Ellen on her 260-mile ride, please see her pledge page here: 

https://www.pledgereg.com/280531. You will also be supporting the Afghani women who need all the help they can get.

Beyond the Bike, a 3-day 260-mile bike ride from Ground Zero in NYC to Boston, is the signature fundraising event of Beyond the 11th. We begin at the memorial pools at the site of Ground Zero, make our way out of NYC through the rolling hills of CT eventually arriving back in Boston. The 3 days are physically challenging which makes the accomplishment so rewarding. For more information on Beyond the 11th, please see www.beyondthe11th.org

Photo credit: beyondthe11th.org

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