KENTUCKY (6/15/12)—At the age of 69, Patricia Hansen—a Washington state resident and the director of a non-profit group known as Emerald City Lights based out of Seattle–decided take a 97 day nationwide bike ride to shed light on the issue of hunger in America while also raising $50,000 to supply needy families with healthy food.
Since her official departure from Astoria, Oregon on April 1st, Hansen has been biking along stretches of roadway measuring around 50 miles apiece and has covered a total over 2,600 miles in parts of Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, and now, Kentucky (a complete map of Hansen's destinations is attached near the end of this article).
After riding a total of 58 miles in Owensboro, KY yesterday, June 14th, Hansen is traveling through parts of Leitchfield today and expects to visit the Mammoth Cave community tomorrow, according to volunteer and Emerald City Lights board member, Michael Dugan. What’s more, Hansen will be reaching her final stop in Yorktown, Virginia on July 7th, which also happens to be her 70th birthday.
So why did the Washingtonian woman settle on cycling across the nation and what, specifically, is the ultimate goal of her lengthy trip?
Before becoming the director of Emerald City Lights, Hansen was helping to feed families during the Thanksgiving holiday. During that time, sepcifically the mid-90s, all the foods were donated and there were lots of volunteers. Then, as the years went on, there were fewer families being fed due to the fact that volunteers had to now purchase the foods.
With this in mind, Hansen merged her love of cycling with her passion to help the hungry with the founding of a nonprofit event, the Emerald City Lights Bike Ride, in 2005. With monies raised from community biking and walking fundraising events, Hansen’s organization has fed 1,000 Seattle-area families over the past 8 years. Having personally experienced wellness through healthy eating, Hansen and her volunteers create 5-day food baskets filled with organic, natural food, as well as dried soup mixes and Hansen’s homemade jams.
“My goal in life is to feed more families each day of the year,” Hansen said. “We have people in our own backyards who can’t put food on the table. People seem to remember those in need during the holidays, but we need to help each week, each day.”
And with tough economic times reaching across the US and beyond, hunger and food insecurity have increased markedly. In fact, USDA research unveils direct data regarding this unfortunate truth, making Hansen’s mission that much more pertinent to our times. Some of this research is as follows:
• In 2009, 14.7 percent of 17.4 million U.S. households were food insecure, meaning that at some time during the year, they had difficulty providing enough food for all members due to insufficient resources, the highest level observed since food security surveys were initiated in 1995.
• More families have sought emergency food. Households using food pantries rose by 44 percent from 3.9 to 5.6 million households from 2007 to 2009.
• Over the same period, food pantry use by married-couple families rose 66 percent; multiple-adult households without children, 57 percent; and households located in the Midwest, 65 percent.
While helping to put an end to these statistics, organizers and supporters explain that many of the families who benefit from Emerald City Light’s food baskets have been stricken by illnesses, cutting short earning potential and forcing difficult choices between feeding families and buying medicine or seeking medical care.
So, you think you’re up for helping Hansen to live out her long held dream of cycling at 70 to feed the need?
For more information, to view Hansen’s daily progress through her travel blog, or to donate, please become a fan on Facebook by clicking here or by visiting the official website at http://emeraldcitylights.com.
Emerald City Lights Bike Ride, a 501(c)3 non-profit, charitable and educational organization based in Seattle, is dedicated to providing to those in need. Their goal is to support activities, organizations and programs that work to provide nutrition and general humanitarian aid.
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