Charity Logo

Charity Logo

Charity of the Month


In December I am riding for Heifer International. Founded in 1944, Heifer International works with communities around the world to end hunger and poverty and to care for the Earth. Its approach is more than a handout. Heifer provides animals (e.g., heifers, goats, water buffalos, chickens, rabbits, fish, and bees) and training to impoverished people in over 30 countries. The animals can give milk, meat, or eggs; provide draft power; or form the basis of a small business. Communities make their own decisions about what crops, animals, and market strategies make sense for their everyday conditions and experiences.

Heifer International is based on 12 Cornerstones, such as Sustainability; Genuine Need and Justice; and Gender and Family Focus. Perhaps the best known Cornerstone is Passing on the Gift, in which Heifer recipient families pass on the offspring of their animals to others in need. In this way, whole communities can raise their standard of living.

A donation to Heifer International also can make a wonderful alternative holiday gift. Instead of yet another sweater for Grandma that she really doesn’t need, why not donate a Heifer animal or a share of an animal in her honor? Does your child really need so many new toys? Instead of five new toys, give him/her three new toys and a Heifer flock of chicks. Heifer has honor cards to let your loved ones know of your gift on their behalf.

I have set up a Team Heifer page to support Heifer International through A Year of Centuries. My goal is to raise $500. Please make your donation through If you would like more information about Heifer’s work, please visit Whether you give to honor a loved one or make a regular donation, thank you for taking steps to transform the world for the better.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Something to BRAG About

This month I’m so happy and honored to ride on behalf of the BRAG Dream Team.  The Dream Team is a group of young people who are learning about setting a goal (riding a bicycle all the way across Georgia!), working hard to get there, and having fun all at the same time.  When I first rode BRAG in 1994, I had no idea that cycling would become the important part of my life that it is today.  I hope that the experiences that the Dream Team members have on their bicycles are just as meaningful to them.  So, today I’ll share the role that BRAG has played in my journey.

As a teenager, the longest bicycle ride I ever did was from my house to Stone Mountain.  I made this trip a few times with my older sister, once with a high school friend, and once by myself.  It was about 10 miles each way and was mostly along the bicycle trail leading to the west side of the park.  (The bicycle trail was in rather rough shape back then; I’m very pleased that since then, the PATH Foundation has greatly improved it as part of its network of bicycle trails in the metro Atlanta area.)  Given my limited knowledge and worldview on cycling at the time, riding to Stone Mountain was a big deal.

Then I started hearing about a bicycle ride that went from Atlanta to Savannah each year.  This sounded like an incredible feat.  When I discovered that one of my neighbors had done the ride, I thought she must be superhuman.  I couldn’t imagine the fitness, not to mention the logistics, that it would take to do such a thing.  Still, the seed of possibility was planted in my mind...

Eventually I learned that the ride is called the Bicycle Ride Across Georgia (BRAG), and it doesn’t always go from Atlanta to Savannah.  The week-long ride takes a different route each year, usually west to east.  Although I don’t remember the exact sequence of events that transpired, I know that I rode BRAG thanks to my husband (then boyfriend/fiancé) Robert.  When Robert and I met toward the end of my college years, he was into triathlon.  That rekindled my desire to get another bicycle (my last one had been stolen a few years earlier), and we started riding together.  My point of reference had not changed much; I thought our initial 20-mile rides were pretty long!  It’s all relative, though.  My perspective began to change as my distances started creeping higher and higher.  Then, somehow we decided to do BRAG together in 1994.  One thing that particularly appealed to me was that year’s route, which went from Bainbridge to St. Simon’s Island.  I had never seen South Georgia except from the interstate while driving to Florida, and that’s not really seeing South Georgia.

Robert and I biked a lot that spring, including riding in the BRAG Spring Tune-Up (STU).  The STU gives riders a flavor of BRAG, offering a long ride each day over a weekend.  By the way, 1994 was the first year that the STU was held – lucky for Robert and me!  And maybe it’s not a coincidence, but 1994 was also the year that the BRAG Dream Team started :)

We had a marvelous BRAG that year!  From visiting Robert’s good friend Clint in Quitman to eating fresh blueberries in Alma, from seeing all the free-roaming chickens in downtown Fitzgerald to meeting the nice people of Jesup, it was such a memorable and fun trip.  Even getting drenched in a thunderstorm as we rode into Waycross was an adventure!  We enjoyed ourselves so much that we did BRAG two more times, in 1995 and 1996.  We started taking cycling trips in other states and even other countries after that.  Although we haven’t done the full, week-long BRAG since then, I’ll always be grateful to BRAG for getting us going down such a wonderful road.

Camping in Thomasville

Rather warmish in Valdosta

Robert with highwheeler in Fitzgerald
Blueberries and Little Miss Blueberry in Alma

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