An educational bike ride: SLO man starts cross-country tour

After a longtime friend in India reached out to family and colleagues to raise money for children there who can’t afford an education, a former San Luis Obispo biotech firm executive decided to embark on a cross-country bicycle ride in hopes of raising $25,000. He starts his journey today.

The money raised by Lauren Brown, 67, of San Luis Obispo is for a scholarship fund that would enable students who live in remote villages to stay in dormitories.

Brown is the former president of Promega Biosciences Inc. — the firm he helped found in San Luis Obispo as JBL Scientific — and was a leader in the Central Coast’s scientific community for more than three decades.

He hopes to raise enough money for 100 village children to attend school for one year. The cost of one year’s tuition, boarding, paper and pencils is $250, Brown said.

“I want people to know they can make a difference without giving a huge amount of money,” Brown said.

During his trip, Brown plans to give presentations at Methodist churches to encourage congregations to donate. He will also contact service organizations that are looking for guest speakers.

Brown has maintained a connection with India since he served in the Peace Corps from 1964 to 1967. He was assigned to teach chemistry at a rural school.

Brown is enthusiastic about his cause and has a fondness for bicycling.

“I’m excited about enjoying the outdoors, countryside and national parks at a leisurely pace,” he said.

His trip will last about 100 days, and he hopes to be in Washington, D.C., by Aug. 10. He launched a website, www.bfki.us, where he has a blog and photo section he plans to update as he travels.