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Water Ride

Allison and Tim Lowry sit on one of the Vespas they ride during their 1,200-mile trip to raise money for a company that builds low-tech wells and water pumps in places that don't have access to clean water.
Allison and Tim Lowry sit on one of the Vespas they ride during their 1,200-mile trip to raise money for a company that builds low-tech wells and water pumps in places that don't have access to clean water.

Last summer, Allison Lowry learned about a company that builds low-tech wells and water pumps in places around the world that don't have access to clean water.

She was so taken by the effort that last week Lowry and her husband, Tim, hopped on motor scooters and set out to drive 1,200 miles to raise money for the company -- Hydromissions International.

"I just loved what they're doing," Allison said. "I really wanted to do whatever I could to help them."

They call their tour "2 Wheels 4 Water." Their plan combines a road trip across the Carolinas with a charitable equation. The Lowrys estimate that the average car mile costs 17.5 cents; a mile on their Vespa motor scooter is 3.5 cents. They're asking for the difference -- 14 cents for each mile of the trip.

They hope to raise at least $7,000 to pay for one of Hydromissions' trips abroad.

So far, they've raised about half that, Allison said.

The Lowrys left their Greenville home Aug. 1 for Spartanburg and Columbia. Next, they rode to Hilton Head, then along the coast before scooting to Raleigh, N.C.

On Tuesday, their trek brought them to Rock Hill, where they planned to spend the night before zipping off to Asheville, N.C.

They'll dart back to Greenville on Wednesday to donate the money.

Hydromissions, which missionaries Steve and Jennifer Lorch run out of their home, sells hand drills and other materials to dig wells and install pumps. Steve designs all of the drills and tools based on blueprints from the 1800s.

The idea is to keep the equipment small-scale and rudimentary so they're accessible to remote villages, Steve said.

"We more or less have packaged low technology," Steve said. "We de-engineer."

The Lorches also make and sell soap. All of their profits keep the business running and fund overseas "water projects," Jennifer said.

Steve still works his day job because the couple doesn't keep any money for themselves, she said.

About four months ago, Hydromissions got an e-mail from Allison Lowry, who wrote "I just have a crazy idea. We want to ride our Vespa to raise money for you."

While she's not sure if they'll raise $7,000, Allison said the trip was worth it. But she admits she underestimated how grueling it would be to spend six days on two wheels in scorching August.

"The longest I had ever ridden a scooter before this trip was for 30 minutes around downtown Greenville," Allison said. "I think we're going to have to spring for massages when we get back."

For details on the Lowrys' journey, or to donate, visit: www.2whees4water.com

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