Charitable Giving

Africa, Charitable Giving, Climbing, Destinations, Ethiopia, Yosemite / 18.09.2010

I turned 44 today. And while I write this I'm sitting on a toilet with my laptop in the lavatory of a dark hotel room in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Don't draw any salacious implications from my current predicament. I needed a quiet place to work so as not to wake my roommate, climber and writer Majka Burhardt. She’s asleep in the next room. And don’t get any funny ideas about that either. I’m on the roll away. For the next several days she’s my friend, guide and traveling companion through not only the wild outback of Ethiopia, but the convoluted path toward fulfilling my wayward dream of  becoming a professional adventure journalist.
Bikes, Charitable Giving, Cycling, Madison, Outdoor Recreation, philanthropy, Podcast / 13.09.2010

An all inclusive adventure for the disabled only

I’m packing my bags and taking this show on the road. And you’re wondering, so what’s new? James you travel all the time. That’s right. I do. The Joy Trip Project is all about venturing out into the wide world and finding those stories about people who are doing what they can to make a difference, to make the world a better place. But this time, it’s just a bit different. This time, I’m going to Africa. You’ll find out why exactly I’m going intercontinental in an upcoming edition. So stay tuned. But yesterday, and I mean while I’m sorting my socks and underwear I get a text message from my friend adventure filmmaker and a true Joy Tripper Dominic Gill. You’ve met him on the show before. Dom’s from the United Kingdom, the UK. He’s riding his bike across the country from LA to New York on a trip he calls The Dom & Ernie Project. And on my iPhone it says: James we just crossed into Wisconsin. We’ll be in Madison tonight. Believe it or not, I dropped everything. Cleared my schedule and made plans, because Dom and I just had to visit. And for you my loyal listeners I just had to bring you his story. Because Dom’s not just riding across the country, that’s been done to death. Just like before in the last story he’s riding a tandem bicycle and all along the way he’s picking up people, random strangers to come along on the ride. Before when he road 20,000 miles from Alaska to Argentina he’d pick up just about anyone. But this time he’s only bringing along people with a disability. "We had Ryan with traumatic brain injury. Then we had Carlos who is visually impaired. The after that we had two brothers, Warren and Chad Woodbury who had muscular dystrophy," Dominic said. "And then 59-year-old Kelly Lane who has Parkinson’s disease, he jumped on. And then he switched out with Rachel who has Cerebral Palsy and she’s just cycled 250-miles from Minneapolis where she lives to here." These are people with profound disabilities, people who under normal circumstances would never have the opportunity to take part in such an amazing adventure. And yet thanks to the Dom & Ernie Project Dominic and his crew Alonzo and Nadia, these disabled cyclists are getting out and experiencing the world. They’re traveling hundreds of miles in a way they may have never dreamed of before.
Capital Region Business Journal, Charitable Giving, Cycling, Kids in Nature, Madison, Magazines / 23.08.2010

A corporate training seminar left Maribel Fry in tears. Wiping her eyes, this sales specialist smiled as she watched 14 very happy children ride newly built bicycles around a large conference room of the CUNA Mutual headquarters in Madison. She and 90 of her colleagues from across the country gathered to boost their professional skills while dedicating their efforts to the benefit of area young people from the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County. But little did Fry realize that she would get something in return.
Banff, Breaking News, Charitable Giving, Cycling, Outdoor Recreation, Outdoor Retailer, Summer, Travel / 07.08.2010

Salt Lake City, Utah 6:AM MST The Outdoor Retailer Summer Market ended yesterday, but the journey continues. And in some ways, perhaps it’s finally just getting started.

I'm hitting the road today making my way back across the plains and prairies to Wisconsin. I'm pretty psyched to get moving on several new projects that gained some serious traction over the last few days. So it's good to be heading home. But this morning I woke up to an exciting email that announced the post of a new video from my friend adventure filmmaker Dominic Gill. (Give a listen to my podcast interview with him recorded last year at the Banff Mountain Film Festival>> Take A Seat). He's making his way cross Wyoming and South Dakota on a tandem hybrid up-right recumbent bicycle on course for an incredible experience.  In his first documentary feature Take A Seat, Dom road a tandem bicycle from Alaska to Argentina. For two years on his 22,000-mile trek across two continents he invited total strangers to ride along on the back seat of his bicycle built for two. And as I write this he’s currently cycling across the United States traveling from California to New York on a similar expedition, but this time all of his riding partners are exclusively people with a disability.
Charitable Giving, philanthropy / 22.07.2010

Shane Phillips, 31, and his girlfriend Kassandra Fleury, 20, gave birth to an infant with special needs. Though covered by health insurance the young couple suddenly found themselves overwhelmed by astronomical medical bills they couldn’t pay. “Our son Ryder was born with gastroschisis,” Phillips said. “That’s a condition where his small intestine is sticking out of the side of his body.” With good prenatal care a routine ultrasound discovered a small tear in Ryder’s umbilical cord five months into gestation. A biophysical profile revealed his distended intestine protruding through the opening. Insured through Group Health Cooperative under her mother’s policy Kassandra was hospitalized two weeks in advance of her due date. Despite his serious condition Ryder was getting the care he needed for a successful delivery. “But when he was born we went to all three hospitals in Madison within 48 hours,” Phillips said. “And with all that going on I got the first bill for something like $180,000.” To put it mildly, access to quality health care is complicated. The intricate details of insurance coverage can often pose an impenetrable barrier between patients and the medical treatments they need to survive. Even those who currently have insurance can find it nearly impossible to effectively navigate their way through the convoluted system of benefits to which they are entitled. Some in our community forgo seeking timely medical care out fear of their inability to pay. While others incur expenses out of pocket that would otherwise have been covered by insurance. But in Madison a non-profit public interest law firm called ABC For Health works to simplify the claims process. With services available to ailing state residents at all levels of income, the group provides free benefits counseling, a kind of check up, that eases navigation through the system, facilitates the delivery of care and speeds healing. [caption id="attachment_3524" align="alignleft" width="419" caption="ABC for Health attorney Bobby Peterson"][/caption]

Charitable Giving / 13.07.2010

People constantly ask me: "Do you ever run out of story ideas?" Actually I don't. There's always something to write about. The hard part is keeping it fresh and interesting. Typically I write about people I meet who do good in the world, selfless individuals who work tirelessly to improve the lives of those around them. Over the last few weeks in fact I've been inundated with dozens of amazing stories about people doing great things on behalf of the environment or for the benefit of others. The hard part as journalist is to pick the stories that are most engaging and compelling. Unfortunately what happens is that when so many people are doing so much good the cynic in me becomes a bit jaded and I'm left to wonder which stories are truly worth exploring further, to write about and share with a broader audience. Even Everest climbers and ultra-distance runners raising money to cure cancer or end hunger are becoming cliché. We’ve been there, done that, another tired phrase. Suddenly I understand why the nightly news is always full of murder and mayhem. These are exciting isolated events that draw a person's interest because they're unusual. Deeds of common good are, well...boring.