REDMOND, Wash. – May 29, 2008 – In early June, a team representing Microsoft Unlimited Potential will participate in RacingThePlanet’s “Gobi March” – a one-of-a-kind, seven day endurance race covering 250 kilometers across the remote Gobi Desert in rural China. The race course traverses the Kizilsu Kirghiz Autonomous Prefecture, which is one of the most remote regions of China, and usually inaccessible to foreigners.
Members of Microsoft’s Unlimited Potential team celebrate after training in the Mojave Desert for the Gobi March, a 250-kilometer endurance race across the remote Gobi Desert in northwestern China. From left to right: Debby Fry Wilson, William Calarese and Orlando Ayala. Mojave Desert, Nevada, May 27, 2008.
Microsoft race team leader Debby Fry Wilson, along with Orlando Ayala, the Senior Vice President of Microsoft’s Unlimited Potential Group, and colleague William Calarese will make additional in-person investments on the way in line with the Unlimited Potential mission of supporting digital access for underserved communities in the region.
In addition, Microsoft staffers Josh Nash, Roxanne Seubert and Camilla Buttery are serving as race volunteers.
The Unlimited Potential team will also work to raise global awareness of the challenges faced by people of this region, as well as raise funds for international non-governmental organization Save the Children to support the victims of the Myanmar Cyclone and the Sichuan earthquake, where Microsoft is already supporting the Chinese government’s emergency rescue efforts.
“In the short term, we will donate money to support the government’s emergency rescue efforts, and longer term, we are ready to donate PCs and technology classrooms, provide training and support the government’s reconstruction plan,” said Rau Chang, the General Manager of Microsoft’s Public Sector Group for the Greater China Region.
Anyone wanting to donate to these relief efforts can do so via the Unlimited Potential Web site.
As part of the Gobi March, the competitors and race teams will stop at six rural villages along the course to donate books to local schools.
Also on hand at some of these village stops will be the two fully equipped InfoWagons that Microsoft is donating at an event in Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang region, on June 5.
These InfoWagons are fully equipped to provide mobile rural technology access to farmers and villagers. Microsoft also developed the InfoWagon Training Curriculum, which has been widely used by the Chinese Ministry of Information Industries (MII) for pilot programs in a number of provinces.
Unlimited Potential team members report they’re looking forward to experiencing rural China in a way that they otherwise never would, as the race takes them away from their offices at Microsoft’s Redmond campus and shows them first-hand the terrain, environment and circumstances in which the people in this part of the world live.
Race team leader Debby Fry Wilson is also hoping that the experience helps the team, who work every day to help bridge the digital divide, become even more aware, passionate and dedicated to bringing technology to those people who live in some of the world’s most remote areas.
“We wanted to put our hearts and souls into this part of China, promote volunteerism, and show our personal commitment to this initiative. We also wanted this to be a team experience that involved a diverse group of people with different strengths, from a senior vice president to a program manager,” Fry Wilson said.
Ayala added that every person and every role within Microsoft was vital in contributing to the company’s push to help the world’s citizenry realize their full potential.