Wheels4Water Team Leader Mike Fredericks Shares His Journey
In 2018, father of five and founder/CEO of Corporate Color Printing, Mike Fredericks, set out to lead of team of five other riders, a producer, and an RV driver on a nine-day ride across the United States. They had one goal in mind: Raise $250,000 to provide safe water for children in Ethiopia.
“The ride was the best nine days of my life,” Mike said. “We accomplished something huge, way outside of what we could have done on our own, [and] we had a bigger purpose.”
Mike Fredericks is an entrepreneur and business owner with a heart for international development.
He has two adopted children and credits his family for inspiring him to get involved with Wheels4Water. Six-year-old Miki and Didy were adopted from an Ethiopian orphanage in 2016, just one year after Mike’s wife Jamie began having dreams about adoption.
“She had [these dreams] consecutively for two weeks,” Mike said.
Shortly afterwards, God broke his heart for adoption and inspired him and Jamie to begin the process in earnest.
It was only months after bringing the twins home that Mike learned about Wheels4Water from the original team leaders, Justin Ahrens and Brian MacDonald. As he puts it, “They said I could pick up the mantle and do this… and I was all in.”
On April 21, 2018, the Wheels4Water team cycled across the country to fight the water crisis in a big way. Covering 2,700 miles from San Diego, CA to Charleston, South Carolina, the team raised $303,105 for 11 schools and 11,557 children in Bensa, Ethiopia.
“The ride… it’s hard,” Mike said, reflecting on his journey. “There’s days when you don’t want to ride, you’re sore and tired and frustrated,” he said. “It’s the human experience, the highest highs and the lowest lows.”
The camaraderie on the Wheels4Water team was and remains undeniable.
“It was honestly probably the best experience of my life.” – Mike Fredericks
“There’s four of us who still interact almost on a daily basis; we do Bible studies together, and we share our lives,” he said.
Before the 2018 ride, Mike and Jamie traveled to Ethiopia to sign adoption papers and bring their twins home.
“Driving to where their orphanage was in rural Ethiopia, you see the girls walking with the jerry cans, and you see the water holes they were walking to,” he said. “It’s almost like a river or ravines along the road and it’s just like dirty water.”
“You can’t unsee those things,” he added.
In 2019, Mike, his daughter Allie, and the Lifewater team visited Ethiopia to see Lifewater’s programs firsthand and the great need for safe water and improved sanitation.
“When it comes to the water crisis in Ethiopia, Miki and Didy… I want them to grow up knowing that Dad loves their country,” he said. “And their heritage and the people [there].”
“People will say ‘Oh you saved them.’” he added. “I don’t believe that to be true; I feel like they’re truly saved me.”
This year, the Wheels4Water team takes to the mountains with a 4-day trek from Aspen to Mount Evans, raising funds for four village water projects in Ethiopia.
“Going to Ethiopia and seeing a mom and her kids, there’s no difference in what she wants for her kids than what my wife and I want for our kids,” he said. “We’re all the same; we want the best for our kids we want them to be healthy and thrive and grow.”
After this year’s ride, the Wheels4Water teams will have helped 19,500 people get access to safe, sustainable water. Together, they’ll reach over 20,000 feet of elevation, reaching higher than ever before, and changing lives for many children in Ethiopia.
The wheels are already turning for the Wheels4Water 2020 ride along the Cambodian countryside. If you want to be a part of something bigger, join the team today.