Friday, 30 May 2008

If you needed a reason ...

If you needed a reason to feel good today, this could be it.

Ok, it’s just getting to senior exams, and getting anything out of a senior right now is like squeezing Ketchup out of a Heinz bottle, you're not sure what you get out is worth the effort you put in. You are starting to think the next generation just isn’t going to make it…. Then you hear about someone like Neil Sauter of Blissfield, Michigan. ...Ok, I never would have known.. I keep my head well buried in my math books and never see the news, but my wife calls from the staes and says, “Hey, you’ll never believe the kid I just met” And tells me the story.

Neil is 25, and when he graduated from Grand Valley State University in 2006, he was looking for adventure. The Peace Corps sounded good, being the kind of kid who wanted to make a difference in the world AND have some adventure; but they turned him down. (all the kids go “ahhhhhh”). Neil has cerebral palsy, and it has effected his legs, so he has trouble walking… pay attention folks, he has trouble walking, tightness in the thighs, ankles turning in… walking is HARD…pay attention.. it matters in the story.

So Neil decides that he wants to pick his own challenge, something where no one else can tell him “No!”. He decides, in his words, “I would take a stand for people with disabilities right here in Michigan." How??? Well, for starters he decides to walk across Michigan to promote Cerebral Palsy…. No… you still don’t get it…

First, when Neil says across michigan, he doesn’t mean, like, go from Detroit over to Muskegon or something… no ticky tacky cake walk across the bottom of the state for this boy… he is going to walk all the way up the lower Peninsula to the Big Mac Bridge, then across the Upper Penisula to the Wisconsin Border…. NOOOOO wait.. you still don’t get it.. The kid with CP in his legs is going to walk the LONG way across Michigan, 830 miles, ____ ON STILTS____

Ok, so now enter my wife and her group of friends. You see, while I take care of all the hard stuff, like teaching kids math, Jeannie has the easy job of bringing peace into the world and feeding the hungry… Every week she and her friends get together and talk about how to make the world a better place… what THEY can do..Thinking globally, acting locally; trying to get people to realize how powerful they can be, and one of them decides that Neil is a guy with a story to tell and they invite him to attend. Neil gets an evening of entertainment with some beautiful ladies(mostly,except for Joey and Cleve), and I get to hear a story that pulls me out of my bout of self-pity.

Neil is off to Norwood today, another 24 miles to notch off, but the last bit along Eagle Highway is beautiful, and then next week he is off to the Bridge. Along the way he is raising money for a fund he created that buys the tools and technology to allow CP sufferers to live a fuller life. He even has a grant from the government to match what he raises when he reaches a specific leve. He could use a hand.. so if you are camped out somewhere across the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and you were just thinking,now what could we do for excitement this week, then think… “Hey, we could do a fundraiser for CP and pass it on to Neil when he comes by”..Or maybe just buy him a burger, the boy looks a little thin in the picture. Maybe you would want to walk a few miles with him for company.. not much between all those pine trees up there, and I understand the boy is an amusing and interesting story teller, and a really talented juggler.

And if you don’t live along the way in the UP, and not many of you do, you can make a donation on his web site, or mail a check to:
Fresh Earth Peace Project
Box 402
Elk Rapids, Michigan

and we will get it to him. Either way it is totally tax deductable..and maybe matched by the government.

Ahh, Kids today… don’t they make you proud? Good luck Neil.. Left, right, left, right..
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