Lawyer plans to cycle 100 miles to raise funds for the Hope Water Project

By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Never particularly athletic as a child, attorney Silvia Alexandria Mansoor recalls getting her first bicycle in preschool, when her mother soon removed the training wheels. 

“I soon crashed knee-first into a pile of rocks and needed stitches,” Mansoor says with a smile and slight roll of the eyes, adding that for the remainder of her childhood, she preferred reading, puzzles, and other quiet, indoor pursuits.

But three years ago, she returned to two wheels with a passion—and will take part in the August 19 Assenmacher 100 cycling ride in Swartz Creek near Flint. Organized by a local bicycle company, this ride through the farmland and villages of mid-Michigan invites many to participate.

Mansoor will be participating through the Hope Water Project, which raises funds for water-well construction benefitting the Pokot people in western Kenya. It will be her third year riding in the event, and second year of fund-raising with the Hope Water Project.

Accessible and clean water, she notes, is something most people take for granted.

“We’ll take long showers, leave the faucet running, sprinkle our lawns, and so on. Although there are always exceptions, most of us simply have to turn a knob to obtain our water. We don’t have to travel miles to get to the water only to then carry the water back with us over those same miles,” she says.

“For many, easily accessible and clean water is, unfortunately, a luxury. It shouldn’t be though. That’s why I’m involved in the Hope Water Project and hope to continue my involvement for as long as I can.”

Mansoor and her fellow cyclists with the Hope Water Project—a group that includes runners and is open to everyone—are active throughout the year. Her cycling group training rides start in late Spring and end in late August, with cyclists heading out at 7 a.m. on Saturdays. 

“A friend introduced me to the group when I told her I was looking for people to cycle with. The cause was an extra bonus,” she says. “The 7 a.m. aspect wasn’t appealing, but I was still intrigued. 

“I’m passionate about it because it allows me to participate in an amazing workout, as well as meet and get to know some great people. More importantly, I strongly believe that as humans, and especially as attorneys, we’re measured by what kind of an impact we can make on society. The Hope Water Project isn’t just about providing water, it’s about helping to kick-start a community. With easier access to water, families can focus on education, health, and community instead of spending hours to find and obtain clean water. With such a shift in focus, the possibilities are then endless. Knowing we’ll be playing a role in that is rewarding.” 

Team leaders set out the training schedule and routes early on in the year.

Sometimes the cyclists start at the Onyx rink in Rochester, hop onto the Macomb Orchard Trail, then hit some roads; other times, they’ll tackle the hills of Stoney Creek and surrounding roads.

“I enjoy being a part of the group because it’s a community of people who focus on others before themselves,” Mansoor says.

“I’ve found time and time again that some of my teammates will focus on my endeavor and well-being before they even focus on their own. More importantly, we’re all riding for a cause more significant than ourselves—providing clean water.” 

In her first year with the Assenmacher event, Mansoor pedaled 20 miles. “Last year, I set out to ride 34 miles, and somehow, I got roped into the 66, and raised $560,” she says. 

“Even more amazing, is that I came back again—the 66 was the most excruciating thing I’ve done before, and I won’t hold back, I wanted to simply stop and fall on the grass at least three times during the ride. However, with the help of my teammates, and more importantly, with the focus of providing clean water to the Pokot, I kept going. I’m pretty sure I ended up sleeping the entire day afterwards. It was an amazing accomplishment though, and I’m glad I tackled the 66.”

This time around, Mansoor aims to complete the 100-mile ride. “I’m really hoping I can make it happen. We’ve been training the entire summer, slowly building up our mileage throughout our rides. By the time the Assenmacher comes, the idea is that we’ll be ready,” she says. 

“This time around, no sleeping afterwards though. I’ll be making a trip to North Carolina for some hang gliding.” 

Several of Mansoor’s teammates have done the ODRAM (One Day Ride Across Michigan) and Zoo-De-Mack bike rides.

“I’m always fascinated by their stories,” she says. “Once I get a little more experienced, I would love to tackle those other rides.” 

Mansoor previously owned a Liv hybrid bike, and currently rides a Trek FX 3. “I know it’s still considered a hybrid and not full-fledged road bike, but step-by-step. I’m hoping to clip in soon as well,” she says. “Needless to say, my accessories are piling up at this point too.”

In addition to the charity aspect, cycling helps this Michigan State University College of Law alumna unwind from her legal work at Koussan Hamood PLC in Southfield, a firm that provides litigation and transaction services in many areas, including insurance, real estate, and health care.

“When you’re on the bike, all you’re focused on is yourself, the bike, and the road. Any other issues or problems in life are a million miles away,” she says. “It’s a great mental and physical exercise.”
The best conditions, she adds, are cool temperatures with the wind at your back.  “This summer, I think we’ve had that once—the rest of the times have been rainy and even humid,” she says. “On the Saturday training rides, we try to beat the humidity by going out early, but we can never control the weather, obviously.

“When you’re riding in less than ideal conditions, however, we keep in mind the conditions of those we’re trying to help. It might be bad for you, but it might be worse for others.” 

The Metro-Detroit native, who believes there’s no better way to impact the world in a positive way than with community involvement, also has been heavily involved in other things. She provides support to the annual Detroit Startup Week, which celebrates and provides resources to the community’s startups, entrepreneurs, businesses, and trailblazers; serves on the Oakland County Bar Association (OCBA) New Lawyers Committee as well as the Executive Council of the Young Lawyers Section of the State Bar and the Litigation Advisory Board of the Legal Institute of Continuing Legal Education (ICLE).

Mansoor notes her surname means “The one who is victorious”— and she surely plans to be victorious in the August ride, with the aim of surpassing her fundraising goal.

To make a donation, visit https://www.crowdrise.com/o/en/campaign/hwp2018assenmacher100/silviamansoor.

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