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I don't know if I can name a specific instance when my concern for the environment took hold of my life. In fact I'm certain this concern formed gradually yet definitively over time. I've always had a simplistic view of life, save for a few early years where Barbie took precedence.

I started out studying Biology in college, then quickly moved into what was then the new Environmental Studies/Policy Program. I enjoyed what I was learning and pursued my interests actively. I enrolled in any and all electives related to the environment, including Environmental Ethics, History and the Environment, as well as Environmental Economics. The more I learned about the many facets of environmental studies, the more questions I had. I think that is why I enjoyed studying it so much. No matter how hard I looked there were (and remain) no easy answers.

Dr. Stanton and I. He's one of the main Docs who performed the
surgery on my face after the accident

As my college career came to an end I found myself with two paths before me. I was either to thrive as a member of the U.S. Women's Lacrosse Team or serve in the Peace Corps, furthering my study of and feeding my desire for improving the environment. I'd like to say that playing on the U.S. team wasn't as fulfilling an experience as I had hoped for and therefore I chose the Peace Corps. In reality, however, my decision was made for me after a truly humbling experience at the US Lacrosse team tryouts.

The Peace Corps was a wonderful experience for me. The people I lived and worked with taught me more than I ever could have taught them. The vicious cycle I observed involving poverty, corruption, and environmental destruction, just fueled my internal fire to try and make it all better. I left the Peace Corps with a sense of despair but I felt far from hopeless. The Peace Corps helped me to realize I won't ever be able to solve the world's problems in 2 years, 1 bike trip, or even my entire life ~ but also just as importantly that this harsh reality will never stop me from trying.

I returned from the Peace Corps without a scratch, though perhaps a few residual symptoms from Typhoid Fever and multiple bouts of amoebic dysentery, but with a grand plan to bike from Alaska to Chile. As I settled into what I considered to be a nice little living situation, a job in the city that focuses on energy conservation, a house three miles from work so I can bike to work each day, and a great loop for running and biking to train for triathlons, I realized more fully how environmentally unconscious people can be. With this realization, I started to work on my plan for "The Bike Trip Campaign". My plan began with calculating how much money I thought this trip would cost. After initial calculations I started saving. Here was where my planning fell flat. I thought I couldn't really do any serious planning until the time was closer. I also began to realize how frightening planning a trip like this truly was. I had to admit to myself that I was scared of failing, not finishing, having an ineffective campaign, or simply dealing with the danger of it all. Added to those insecurities, I wasn't getting many feel good vibes from my family concerning the trip itself.

On October 9, 2002, a little incident changed all of that negative thinking. As I was biking home from the gym, less than 2 miles from my home, I was involved in a hit and run accident. Unfortunately, I did not walk away fully in tact. My body emerged unscathed, but my face was introduced to a trailer hitch. My mom, a nurse case manager for AETNA US Healthcare, made some phone calls and had the hospital's Oral and Maxillofacial department come down and have a look at my X Rays, enter Dr. Stanton. It was then that I learned that I had fractured my maxilla, zygomatic, nasal, and cheekbones. All of the fractures rotated and crushed inwards to my sinus cavity. I think they referred to this as an orbital blowout. What took not even 1 second to wreak, took 8 months to recover from. Click here to see a picture BUT beware, it's gross!

Though the recovery process was long and at times painful, I was very relieved that I hadn't broken any bones in my body. The vanity of America would have more than taken care of any cosmetic surgery had it been necessary and I could have happily continued with my active lifestyle. If I had broken my hip or knee or femur, however, that could have kept me from doing all of the activities that make life so enjoyable for me.

This accident forced me ask myself whether I was going to be afraid or smart. This event happened less than 2 miles from my home. I was in Honduras for over two years and played it smart ~ nothing had happened. This isn't to say that nothing will ever happen, despite how smart I am, but it is always better to be adequately prepared. I know I am taking a risk with this bike trip, but after looking into long term travel insurance, which I hadn't budgeted for, I decided I wasn't going to be frightened by the prospect of this bike trip. I began planning the proposed itinerary in earnest, discussed ideas with friends concerning possible pamphlets for the campaign, and seriously got to work turning my dream into a reality.

So here I am, ready to prove to anyone willing to commit to my cause, what I have already proved to myself ~ that believing in an ideal can affect a reality, whether personal or environmental. My ideal and the purpose of this trip is to get people to think a few levels deeper about their environmental imprint and hopefully do something positive about it.
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