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January 9, 2014

Area woman to discuss Israel adventure

Longtime Cooperstown resident Susan Lettis, who rode her bicycle for a cause in Israel this fall, will be sharing her adventure at an upcoming program.

Lettis was one of more than 130 people on a five-day Israel Ride in late October and early November. It helped raised funds for scholarships for Palestinians and Jordanians to attend Arava Institute, an environmental science research center, in Israel. The trip went through a variety of terrain from Jerusalem to Eilat.

Lettis’ talk and slide show will follow a potluck Middle Eastern-theme dinner that starts at 6 p.m. Jan. 15 at the First Presbyterian Church in Cooperstown. The event is open to the public.

This is the first time she participated in the trip. She was encouraged to join by friends who had had done it previously. The event raised about $500,000 for undergraduate and graduate students.

The fundraiser is a collaboration between the institute and Hazon, a U.S.-based Jewish organization working “to create a healthier and more sustainable world for all,” according to the latter’s website. The institute students, including Israelis, Palestinians and Arabs, study together and participate in a peace institute, which is a requirement of the program.

Lettis, 31, who recently moved to Oneonta, said she has recently gotten into cycling. She said that although she has traveled abroad before, and served in the Peace Corps,“I’ve never done anything like this.”

Her favorite part of the ride, she said, was traveling through the desert.

“It was almost unreal,” she said. The cyclists stopped every 10 miles to make sure they were hydrated.

They got up early and start riding before it got too hot, she said, but it was very invigorating and “kind of addicting.” When her friends talked about going again this year, she said, “I couldn’t say no.”

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