If you had the opportunity to have a wild adventure that would take you to the other side of the world with three of your lifelong friends, while risking life and limb all in the name of charity (and, of course, fun) would you do it? If you asked British expat Patrick Marsden, the answer would be a resounding yes.
In September, Marsden and his three best friends, a.k.a. Team Veerasway, will join the Rickshaw Run, a monthlong organized road rally throughout Nepal and northern India with nothing but a rickety auto-rickshaw to get them 2,400 miles from the city of Shillong through the Himalayas, the jungle and desert ultimately ending in Jaisalmeer, the "Golden City."
This Friday, April 1, Team Veerasway will hold a fundraiser at the Matthew Lew Gallery in the West Loop to raise money for their main charity: Apna Ghar, a women's domestic abuse shelter in Chicago. While only required to raise $1,000, the team has a personal goal to raise $20,000 and has currently only brought in about $2,000. But before we get too far ahead of ourselves, what does this have to do with Veerasway?
"I had eaten at Veerasway several times before we had the conversation we wanted to to the Rickshaw Run," Marsden said. "I wanted to partner with someone in Chicago and an Indian restaurant and they have a young, trendy vibe. I just shot them an email saying, 'I'm 26, live in Chicago, I'm doing this thing and thought it'd be a great opportunity to pair up.'"
"I read the email and I kept waiting for the request for a bank account number," said Chris Lee, who owns Veerasway with his wife, Angela. "I asked, 'Is this real?' and Angela said to call back and see what he wants." After an initial meeting, the Lees were taken with Marsden's story and charm and agreed to pony up the registration money, which also covers the rickshaw.
During their adventure, the four friends will have no one to rely on but themselves. From this, one would think they'd have proper supplies, but the team is going with nothing but the shirts on their backs and whatever they can stuff into their pockets. They'll have to fix the rickshaw themselves when it breaks down, and it will break down. They'll have to rely on the kindness of strangers to give them food and shelter if they can't find a hostel or place to eat. And they'll have to pray they don't run into any serious crime.
"We're going to be mainly in rural areas. The first 500 miles is currently going through an insurgent conflict," Marsden said. "Once we clear through that, we'll be relieved. The roads are so horrifically dangerous, so our main concern is getting into a crash and being three days out. We won't have acces to health care in these remote areas."
That said, why not join Marsden at the fundraiser this Friday at the Matthew Lew Gallery. Veerasway will provide plenty of nibbles and drinks will be courtesy of Bulleit bourbon. And you'll get to check out some great art while getting Bollywood dance lessons with music provided by DJ Buck.
Tickets are priced between $50 and $150, depending on your desired level of giving. But all Eater readers who want to support Team Veerasway can use the code EATERCHICAGO to get 10 percent off. Get your tickets now.
· Team Veerasway [official site]