As part of the preparation for my BIG bike tour from Ontario to Florida this fall, I have been reading through several online journals of people who have pedaled a similar route. Not everyone, but often people are doing a big bicycle trip to raise money for a cause. It may be for a hospice, a community radio station or to raise awareness (& money) to fight modern day human trafficking, but they cycle for a cause.
Now, my initial reason for embarking on this journey is because I simply love touring by bicycle. Wouldn't it be wonderful though, if a side benefit would be that I could also raise awareness & perhaps a bit of cash for a cause that was dear to me?
But then, I had a bit of a problem. There are a number of issues that I am passionate about. How could I pick one? Then it struck me; maybe I don't have to choose. I could let those who are so inspired to make a contribution to what they believe in. And, it wouldn't have to be money. It could be that someone perhaps didn't have spare cash, but had some time to donate, or some tools they could share in a community project.
As I thought about it more, I realized that one of the biggest causes for me is doing whatever I can to encourage people to be involved in community building, in whatever way makes sense for them. Yes, money is always a welcome donation to so many cash-starved organizations and the multiplier effect can be tremendous, especially when one of our wealthier (at least money-wise) citizens chooses to open his or her check book. But really, the act of giving can be so much more than writing a check. Certainly for those with limited time it may be the best way to "share the wealth". But how about the one with no money to share, how can they participate in the joy of giving? Really, it's easy. It can be sharing your last cigarette. (And this, coming from an avowed non-smoker;) or helping out at your local food bank.
What I'd like to do then, is devise a way that I can turn this bike tour into a means of encouraging others to share their wealth, whatever that may be, with others. Wouldn't it be way cool if I could inspire someone to volunteer a night at their local soup kitchen or with a youth group for every 100 kilometers I ride? If I could get just ten people to make that pledge, & I completed the journey, that would add up to almost a years worth of volunteered evening shifts. And it would be just as cool if just one (or more) of our more financially fortunate friends chose to donate a dollar for every kilometer I rode to their favourite charity.
I realize that I don't want to tell anyone how they should donate their time or money or expertise. I just want to inspire all of us to share whatever it is we have to share.
I'd appreciate hearing from anyone who may have views on this idea. Does it make sense? Could it work? It would seem to me that there would need to be some way of tracking participation. Would the best way to do that be through the Internet, either individuals posting anecdotes about their volunteer pledges on my blog, or perhaps through a social media site like facebook?
To be honest, my primary goal this late summer and into the fall is to have a great adventurous bike ride. If, however, I thought I could encourage some interesting community involvement on the part of folks I know, & people I may come to know, that would be, as I said above waaaaaaaaaay cool;)
Let me know what you think. Now, I just have to hit that Publish button up above & get this crazy idea out there.