As of right now, I am exactly one week away from embarking on a unicycle trip across the state of Alabama to raise awareness for childhood obesity. It still does not seem real. Only four months ago the flicker of a dream ignited into this beautiful reality. I cannot attempt to separate my preparations for this trek from the amazing support I have received both near and far, from individuals and groups. Planning this has taught me so much about how truly wonderful people are.
Why?: Raise Awareness for Childhood Obesity, Raise Money for Louie's Kids (Check them out at Louieskids.org), Raise Awareness for Sharing the Road with Bikes (and UNICYCLES ^^)
Formative Stage: The first month of preparations (after I convinced everyone that I was indeed serious and of a sound mind ;) )involved reaching out for sponsorship and the beginning stages of a training regimen. Headsweats, Clif Bar & Co., Borden Dental, and Osa's Garden (the wonderful health food store that I work in) were enthusiastic to get on board. Without you and the fantastic individuals who have donated their time, talents, money, and energy this would not be possible.
All of you gave me hope and the drive to keep pushing on.
Training: Considering that I started my training regimen only riding 5-8 miles per day... I can say that it has truly come a long way! Since these first weeks, training has involved back to back long rides of not less than 18 miles. I also included running and walking a few times per week to help with cardio conditioning. My goal on the trip is to ride approximately 40 miles per day, allowing me to reach my destination within 12 days after the start date, August 4.
The Trek and the TEAM: Thanks to the efforts of Dane Trelles, Unicycle Across Alabama has a set route that will take us from Florence, AL to Gulf Shores, AL (Roughly 400 miles). Stops will be made in various cities to spread awareness for childhood obesity and the message of healthy and active living. We will be overnighting in Huntsville, Arab, Birmingham, Clanton, Montgomery, Greenville, Brewton, Bay Minette, and Gulf Shores. We will mostly be camping along the way, but a few wonderful people have already opened their homes to us. But who is this we!? I will have three drivers over the course of the trip to assist in hauling camping equipment in the sag wagon. The first leg of the journey is crewed by none other than my wonderful mother, Debbie Schifano, who will take me as far as Birmingham. The second leg will be crewed by my very close friend and ultra-marathoner, Steven Davis. My uncle, Tony Schifano, will be meeting us up in Montgomery to finish off the trip. Another very important member of the team is Wieland Claes. Wieland will arrive tomorrow from Belgium to ride a bicycle alongside me for the extent of the journey.
It is our unified goal to raise awareness to the issue of childhood obesity and how it can be mitigated. We hope to teach individuals the connection between body and mind, the importance of activity and nutrition, and the special balance that one needs in unicycling and in life. :) We are very proud to be giving all proceeds from this trip to Louie's Kids, who create individual programs for children and adolescents battling childhood obesity. Louie's Kids, located in Charleston, South Carolina, serves the nation with great passion without expecting anything in return. I am very excited to have the opportunity to raise funds for this noble nonprofit.
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
“Instead of asking ‘what do I want from life?,’ a more powerful question is, “what does life want from me?”-- Eckhart Tolle
As Unicycle Across Alabama is being formed and developed there is one question that comes up repeatedly, "Where and how on Earth did you come up with this idea?" Well, the answer lies in the quote above by the ever-wise Eckhart Tolle. Instead of asking, 'what do I want from life?', I began asking 'What does life want from me?' And suddenly...it became very clear. This project represents so much of who I am and what I am able to give at this present moment. It brings my passion for unicycling, endurance sports, people, and health onto one huge stage. Life asked that I put this passion and energy into a good cause, and I answered the call. If you seek, you will find....and you will meet amazing people along the way. I have the time, energy, and amazing support from family and friends, both old and new. Without you, this would not be possible.
Perhaps a better question then, is why... what is the purpose of all this unicycle business? My mission is to raise awareness for childhood obesity throughout the state of Alabama and to raise money for the nonprofit Louie's Kids out of Charleston, South Carolina. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2011, 17.5% of children 18 years of age and younger were considered obese in Alabama. This number is anticipated to increase if no action is taken to mitigate the issue. Now is the only time we have to encourage children to lead healthier lives...it is time to act with urgency, or we will see a population ridden with hypokinetic diseases well before mid-life. It is time to encourage physical activity and healthy living in a way that will intrigue and inspire children. What better way than on a unicycle? It's easy. Unicycles make people smile. Children get excited about it. It is my hope that through this, in conjunction with a creative and entertaining presentation on nutrition and physical activity, I will be able to encourage hope and inspire a new generation to achieve their highest goals in this life. Any donations made for this cause will go to benefit the trip and the nonprofit Louie's Kids. Louie's Kids works with children dealing with obesity on an individual level, finding the best solutions for each child. If you want to learn more about Louie's Kids, please visit Louieskids.org.
If you share my vision, I invite you to join me! Donations are accepted through our paypal, http://fundrazr.com/campaigns/4Uio9?activity=f39e15&psid=eb928f376a7e4cb78a93941848d0c64f
and through snail mail. In-box me at email@example.com for mailing information.
Unicycle Across Alabama was conceived only two and a half weeks ago. In this short time, the precise plans have fallen into place faster than I ever thought possible. In these formative stages my sweet mother, Debbie Schifano, and amazing friends; Steven Davis, Peter Bradberry, Wieland Claes, and Shea Kimbrough, have been overwhelmingly supportive and full of advice. Thanks to the efforts of Dane Trelles from the University of North Alabama Geography Department I will have a back road route for my journey. Kelli Axley was kind enough to donate her time and energy to do a photo shoot. Shea Kimbrough has offered to crew me and document the trip. Also a huge thank you to Chuck Terry for making my first Youtube video, it was awesome! The UNA Outdoor Adventure Center is providing me camping gear. Corporations such as Clif Bar Inc., Headsweats, and Eagle's Nest Outfitters are sponsoring me through product donation and discounts. Borden Dental is outfitting me for the adventure. And a huge thank you to those who have donated for the trip and the nonprofit, Louie's Kids. Also, a round of applause for the nonprofit, who sent T-shirts and rack cards for the trip. I am overwhelmed by the reception of this cause, and again, this would not be conceivable without your generosity.