“You know, you guys just give me such hope that we can change things, that there are people in the world who care enough to do something!” Sara Blair- Field and I were sitting at a table at Cambria Pines Lodge with two of the young “Kourage Riders” bunking down here in Cambria that night. She had helped coordinate their room and board at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and we were visiting with them, learning about their journey.
I found it interesting to watch Sara and this group, both giving their all to benefit others, spreading good will and assisting those in need in whatever means possible.
The Kourage Riders are on a bicycle trek from Vancouver, British Columbia, to San Diego. The riders are pedaling over 1,800 miles to raise money for Kourage ( www.kourageride.org),a nonprofit organization designed to create jobs and foster entrepreneurial ventures in Kenya. The company will award proceeds to small businesses and entrepreneurs working to improve living conditions and communities within Kenya.
“… I have told them that I have voted you as the No. 1 nicest person that I have had the pleasure to communicate with over the entire 1,800 mile ride. You are very genuine and truly have the warm Christian spirit to welcome strangers into your community. I do say a prayer of thanksgiving every night for people like you. You are heaven sent. May God bless you. Regards, Judy Markl, The Kourage Team”
This was the e-mail Sara received from the mother of Chris Markel, the young professor from Florida who headed up the voyage. Mrs. Markel is right, Cambrians are remarkable people.
My friend Rita and I donated some massage time to these pilgrims and, when we went to see them, we were amazed by the amount and variety of food laid out, everything from homemade bean soup and turnovers to salad and more. The riders were so thrilled.
That’s what I love about this town. Sometimes we may not have much, but what we’ve got, we’ll share. Spread the grub, spread the blankets, spread the love. It’s our part in making the world a little better place. Just like these bike riders are trying to do.
I may not be able to ride nearly 2,000 miles, but I can rub your neck. Actually, one rider, Jason, told me that night he’d only gotten his first road bike back in April. This was his first long-distance ride ever.
Why is he doing this? “Back in Florida, I was a pretty successful tile setter. Then, when the economy tanked, that pretty much fell apart. Realizing I had to come up with another plan for my life, I went back to school to study sociology and economics. Chris (Markel) was my professor.
“ I liked what he was proposing, helping these people create their own future, help them overcome the incredible hardships they face each day. It’s a life I could never imagine, but I would like to imagine that I can, on the other side of the planet, make a difference. That makes me feel good about myself and gives me hope, too.”
We here in Cambria feel the same way, Jason. We feel the same way.