Zach Warner, who is driving an auto rickshaw from Kochi to Shillong to raise funds for charity made a pit stop in Hyderabad

The first time he came to India, it was a fun trip to Goa for some sun and sand. This time, however, Zach Warner is a man on a mission — to raise funds for Cancer Research UK and Make a Wish Foundation. An employee with TGI Friday’s Sheffield branch, Zach is a self-proclaimed travel enthusiast passionate about doing his bit for charity. It was this love for travel and determination to help those in need that drove Zach to take part in the challenging Rickshaw Run.

As part of the Rickshaw Run, Zach and his friend Liam, also a TGI Friday’s employee, are travelling from Kochi to Shillong in an auto rickshaw. The duo began their journey on April 7 in Kochi and made a pit stop in the city before making their way further North. Expectedly, the duo draw a lot of curious glances as they speed through the streets of India in their brightly coloured auto rickshaw.

Quiz him on how he finds the experience and Zach smiles, “I’ve never driven an auto rickshaw before. So this is a new experience. And driving on Indian roads is so different from driving back home. It was alarming to deal with cows wandering across streets and trucks zooming past. But the people here are very friendly. We’ve had to deal with a lot of breakdowns on the way and the locals have gone out of their way to help us get the vehicle fixed.”

The two have been taking turns driving the auto rickshaw and had a few close calls, but are enjoying the adrenalin rush and are also spurred on by the fact that this 4,000-kilometre journey will help people suffering from cancer. “We usually drive for about 1.5 hours before breaking for 15 minutes to let the engine cool down and switch drivers. It’s tiring but incredibly satisfying. It is a two-week ride from Kochi to Shillong and fortunately our employers have been very supportive. Not only did they give us the time off but also paid our entry fee of 1,000 pounds,” says Zach.

For now, the duo is looking forward to completing the Rickshaw Run before taking on locals in a football match at the end of their journey.