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'91 Alumna Travels to India to Participate in Rickshaw Run

September 4, 2013

Category: Alumni

AlexanderIf traveling is involved, if the adventure is unique enough and if good stories are involved, 1991 Catawba College alumna Renée Alexander is up for it. Her current trip to India promises to meet all of those criteria.

Alexander (formerly Menius), a native of Rowan County who now makes her home in San Francisco, has signed up to be a member of a four-person team participating in a Rickshaw Run across India. It's a trip in a three-wheeled, glorified lawnmower that will take her more than 2,000 miles and will last two weeks.

Although the adventure is what drew Alexander to partner with her four good friends for the trip, a U.S. non-profit organization, Room to Read, will also benefit. Just days before their departure in late August, Alexander's team, the "Reading Rickshaws," was close to meeting their $10,000 fund-raising goal to aid this U.S.-based organization that promotes literacy equality in India and other countries.

While she has been forewarned by well-meaning supporters and friends of all the perils that could await her in India, Alexander is, as usual, undaunted. She's acquired a motorcycle license so she can actually drive one of her team's two rickshaws, and she says members of her team will look out for each other's well-being.

"We're all world travelers and willing to sacrifice a good time for a good story," she says. "Two of us have studied martial arts, one of us speaks some of the local language, and one of us has visited all seven continents. We're arriving during monsoon season, and there has recently been a bit of unrest near the starting city of Shillong, so no one is completely sure where the starting line is. Nevertheless, we're as prepared as we can be, as in, we're ready to change our plans as local conditions require."

India can't offer any greater calamites than Alexander has already faced, she confides. This is a woman who contracted Dengue fever while on her honeymoon in Honduras, and after she recovered, returned to that country a year later. This is a woman who has driven a camper van alone across an expanse of Australia, chasing a total solar eclipse. Her road trips have taken her up and down the East Coast, across the U.S., to Mexico and through British Columbia. India will be another notch in her traveling belt, and besides, she loves Indian food and has plans to eat lots of it.

Follow the travels of Alexander and the Reading Rickshaws in India or make a donation to Room to Read at The team will be publishing blog posts, status updates and images from the road on this site beginning in early September. For more information about the Rickshaw Run, visit To learn more about the charity, visit


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