Monday, April 30, 2012

Biking Out Hunger

At Snoball, we're all pretty passionate about the awesome work of nonprofits. Just about every single one of us has been employed by a nonprofit at one time or another. Nonprofits are changing the world. And we like that. So when I approached our Snoball team a few months ago and told them I wanted to join Bike Out Hunger - a group of nominally crazed individuals who bike across Texas to raise money for the Texas Hunger Initiative - the response was: "You better do it. And you better raise a lot of money!"

Author and rider Tim Krabbe calls suffering the essence of cycling. From the Tour De France to the local Saturday club ride, those who perform well are those who suffer well. Cycling hurts. In short, we bike hard and we suffer long, but there is always a cool shower, a shaded hammock, and a cold beer waiting at the end of the ride. The pain can be sustained because relief is always in sight.

Those who suffer from poverty, hunger, and food scarcity haven't the luxury. Suffering isn't a choice; it's the result of a lost job, a waning economy, or just bad luck. Nearly 15% of US households are food insecure and 6.2 million children live in food insecure households. For these friends, there is no end of the ride in sight; no choice to get off the bike and enjoy the spoils of a hard fought day. It's 2012. This should't be the case. A child's mind should be filled with curiosity and wonder, not with the question of If and When the next meal is going to come.

Together, we can make a difference. That's what Bike Out Hunger is all about - raising serious cash for a serious issue and making food insecurity of thing of the past. Over the last month I've had a number of Facebook friends join the cause, either making a one-time donation to the Texas Hunger Initiative via Snoball or using Snoball to donate per mile I train.

My Bike Out Hunger week ended a few days ago, and after clocking in 75 to 100 miles per day zigzagging through the state, my legs are still a little beat up. The highlight of the ride was rolling into Priddy, Texas (population 247). You've probably never heard of Priddy and unless you've been lost on a search for the middle of nowhere, you've certainly never driven (or biked) through Priddy.

Priddy ISD has 106 students (K-12) and 60% of those are on free lunch - which means over half of the children live in food scarce house holds. Hot and tired, we rolled into Priddy on Wednesday morning with the street lined by all 106 of those kids - cheering us on and waving handmade signs with quotes like "Keep On Riding!" and "Thank You for Making a Difference!" We stopped, slapped high fives, signed autographs (while trying not to laugh at the fact the we were signing autographs), and talked about life in Priddy. These little kids, in the middle of nowhere ... these kids with their posters, their high fives, and their smiles … these kids cheering and clapping and singing a chorus of "Thank Yous." I was speechless. And teary eyed.
Eventually we mounted up our bikes and rode north towards Comanche, our home for the night. But the riding was different for the rest of the week. Each mile had more focus, more purpose. Hunger had taken on new hands and feet. Hunger had voices that yelled and cheered. Hunger held up handmade signs that said "Thank You!" in purple and green crayon.

And the miles were making a difference.

Food isn't a privilege. We need to make food scarcity a thing of the past. Partner with the Texas Hunger Initiative, Share Our Strength, Feeding America, or your local food bank and start making a difference. Do something … even if it's just little. Together, we can bike out hunger.

3 comments:

  1. Thank you for taking the time to put this article together. "A child's mind should be filled with curiosity and wonder, not with the question of If and When the next meal is going to come." That sentence summed up the experience for me, how the kids swarmed us and asked questions, to know that none of that can happen when a child is hungry and doesn't know where their next meal is coming from.
    -Stephen Burks

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  2. Thank you Stephen! Such a great week riding - so happy we could ride together! The Priddy experience was pretty special; it's something I'll take with me the rest of my life. Hope to ride together in the Tour de Pepper!

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  3. i agree with that. my problem now is mortgage.
    it's tough, i have to work hard and save every penny
    -
    play scrabble

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