Today marks another birthday for me. In the last year alone, I’ve gotten to travel from coast-to-coast, through 32 states and five Canadian Provinces. Seriously, in just one calendar year I’ve been to places like Big Cypress Swamp, Cumberland Island, Great Sand Dunes, Overland Expo in Arizona, the Women’s Rights National Historical Park, Fundy National Park in New Brunswick, Washington DC, Boston, Philadelphia, and Death Valley. That’s in in addition to exploring all over my usual haunts—my home state of Georgia and the Great Smoky Mountains. I’ve gotten to see things like John Adams’ tomb, the Liberty Bell, the Cady-Stanton House, the Pacific Ocean, the CN Tower, and Walden Pond just to name a few. When I stop to consider it all at once it’s overwhelming.
Pretty amazing and fortunate, no?
The thing is, I know I’m fortunate. Yes, I work hard. Yes, travel is my top priority and I make choices that make it happen. And no, it’s not all rainbows and daffodils. This lifestyle isn’t always easy (none is!) but it is what I want out of life. I’ve had a lot of help along the way and I’ve had 42 years to work with so far.
Because of that, what I’d like to do with my birthday post today is highlight three projects that have resonated with me this year. These are projects that give perspective to my travel, good fortune, and how I spend my time and I think they’re worth sharing with you.
My pal, David Wherry who I know through the outdoor adventure community, has started a fundraiser for cystic fibrosis in honor of his niece. David is going to climb the IDS Tower in Minneapolis on February 8th with the proceeds going to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
The reason for including his project is that Briley’s life expectancy is about 30 years. My goal is not to get preachy and sentimental—but that sucks. Only 30 years and filled with medical challenges. Hopefully David’s effort will go a long way towards funding research that will result in real, effective treatments for CF and give Briley and others a longer shot at life. Here’s what David has to say about it in his words:
My niece, Briley, was born four months ago with Cystic Fibrosis. I first met her about a month ago and left feeling compelled to help in some way. Unfortunately, my niece lives in a part of the country that I rarely have the opportunity to visit. That’s when I found the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation stair climb in Minneapolis. By raising money for this climb, I can help give Briley a brighter future. If enough people do the same, it can add up to days, weeks, months, or even extra years for my niece and others inflicted with this disease.
David is a remarkable adventurer and I love that he’s channeling his talents into helping his niece. Join Team Briley here.
The Axel Project…
As a non-profit, they’re dedicated to promoting cycling as a lifelong passion as way to build better, healthier communities. Their initial project is aimed at getting Strider bikes to families in need.
I like to think in the face of such grief I would find a way to honor someone I’d lost that was as true to that person’s spirit as this project is to Axel’s. His life was cut short and now they’re working to make sure other’s lives are fuller. It doesn’t get any cooler than that. Peace and love to the Charrette family.
Do Good As You Go
Back in May I got to hang out at Overland Expo in Arizona. There I met the ever-so-groovy folks of Do Good as You Go. Their mission is to use the talents and skills of independent adventure travelers to benefit communities around the world through volunteerism. The tag-line “use what you know to do good as you go” pretty much sums it up. Matching travelers with partner communities, it’s a win-win for both adventurer and beneficiary. It’s such a simple and elegant idea and the result is that they’re empowering communities and creating partnerships that don’t end in dependence for the communities.
There are countless worthy causes out there but I hope you’ll consider these as you make year-end and holiday donations. Or better yet, get personally involved in some way. All of these projects are founded in the spirit of adventure and, in very different ways, help people lead fuller lives. Having had so many opportunities to lead a full life myself, I want to be a part of helping others do the same.
Adventure on, friends!