Flash from Fargo
Flash from Fargo
Mike and Georgie have entered the great American Electronics Desert in North Dakota. We hope to hear from them as soon as they escape.
Til then, links to cyclist stories from Fargo TV.
Mike and George are mentioned in one and we will each have to decide for ourselves about the other one.
I first learned about St. Gerard House through our church. The founder, Caroline Long, made a fund raising plea at the masses one Sunday. At that time, Caroline was a 43 year old single mom with two children,7 and 9, who were experiencing autism. Caroline had traveled around the country trying to find the best possible cures or therapy for her children. She wanted to share what she had found with other parents. Caroline was moved to establish St. Gerard House, a resource center for families experiencing autism. The Grotto School for pre-k age children was set up and the Clinical Director, Rachael Cushing, hired a teaching staff to provide ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis) to the children enrolled in the school. ABA is an intense one on one therapy (and education) that seek to help the autistic child mainstream into a typical school enviornment. ABA is a proven approach to helping improve the lives of those young children diagnosed with autism.
I personally became involved with St. Gerard House in 2010 and have been a member of its board since that time. St. Gerard House is one of those place where you can see miracles happen before your eyes. An autistic child is not disabled. Many of them are highly intelligent and capable of as much or more than typical kids their age.
Why are funds needed for St. Gerard House? Because ABA is most successful when there is a one-on-one relationship between the teacher and student, the cost is prohibitively high for families in there mid-thirties who may have one or two other children to support as well. SGH charges a relatively manageable tuition for each student and seeks to make up the additional expense through individual and corporate donations, grants and fund raisers. Nearly 86% of the total expenses are direct teacher compensation. The major of the rest is for program development. Only a small fraction of costs are administrative for marketing and fundraising purposes.
Since learning about SGH and more about autism spectrum, I have been surprised at how many of my friends or acquaintance have a family member who is experiencing autism. When I first learned about it three year ago the published figure was 1 in 110 children would be born with autism. It is now down to 1 in 85 and the percentage is even higher among boy children.
Please consider supporting this fine charity and the work they do. You may never know if your dollar was the one that helped a young person with autism become a productive member of our society. But I can assure you that at SGH is it happening.
In June 2012 we had the opportunity to travel to the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind (GDF) in Smithtown, Long Island, New York. The first thing you notice when approaching the main building is the tribute to guide dogs.
This bronze statue is dedicated to the work of this fine organization that has been supplying guide dogs since 1946 to people who are vision impaired or desire improved mobility. These well trained dogs are provided for free to approved students. The foundation is supported entirely by donations from generous individuals, corporations and charitable foundations. As part of our visit we took a tour of the breeding center. GDF breeds most of the dogs that they train so that they know the linage of the dog and its temperment and probability of success. In the breeding center there were several pups in various stages of delivery.
Right away we wanted to take several of them home with us. We also visited the training center were selected dogs were in different stages of training. Many of the staff of GDF in addition to the trainers, will walk the grounds with a dog or have them at their desk during the work day. In this way the dogs get use to the world they will be serving with the blind person.The dogs trained at GDF are ultimately matched with a vision impaired person who spends several weeks at GDF working with their assigned dog. Housing during this time is provided by GDF. After graduation the person returns home with their dog but the training never stops. The dog must get use to the handler’s enviorment including home conditions, travel paths, work enviornment and general living situations.
In addition to Guide Dogs for the vision impaired GDF also sponsors Americas VetDogs. Through this program returning vets with certain disabilities are paired with a dog who is trained to help the vet through the tougher parts of their recovery.
My wife and I have now raised six guide dogs through GDF. We had raised five others through another guide dog organization. Two of our six dogs are now working with disabled vets and three are guides. One of the dogs came back to us and now lives in our home and mentors our new guide dog in training.
After leaving Smithtown we were able to visit a friend on Long Island who received our first guide dog that we raised for GDF. Neil was quite a dog. We had our concerns about him because he was very active. As it turned out he became an exceptional guide dog who provides his handler with safety and love. This is Neil with my wife. We are very proud of what he has accomplished for his handler.
GDF provides a unique service to people with diabilities and vets who need special help. They have provided these services to qualified individual free of charge as a result of donations made from many independent sources. Your donation to this organization will truely help someone in need. See the GDF web site at www.guidedog.org.
For America’s VetDogs go to www.vetdogs.org.
By the way, our newest guide dog in training will be travelling on our bike trip across country. It will be great training for him/her.
In October we entered a relay team in the LPC Triathlon in Fletcher. Our swimmer was my daughter-in-law, Micah. I rode the bike. And my friend Larry was our 5k runner. It was a mini-tri, of course. Anyway, when the race started, Micah, a very accomplished swimmer, got us off to a good start. I was waiting for her in the transition area as she exited the pool and ran up the hill. I told Larry that I was familiar with the bike course and would probably take an hour and 10 minutes to complete it. Well, the adrenaline must have really been pumping that day as I completed the rather hilly course in just under an hour. Feeling pretty good as I entered the transition area, I thought we might have a good chance to finish high in the relay team competition. But as I dismounted and headed for our spot, I didn’t see Larry anywhere in sight. I started yelling for him and when the crowd realized what was happening they started to laugh. “This poor guy has no runner”. After about 5 minutes Larry came running up the hill. He had assumed I would finish later and was not in the transition area in anticipation of my arrival. He did finish the 5k and we had a respectable time overall. Larry was apologetic but I told him this made a much better story to tell on him then if everything had gone right.
In 2009 we joined a BRAG group on a bike tour of Hungary. We were treated to some views of the beautiful country side around Lake Blaton.
The tour mainly focused on exploring the little known wineries of Hungary. As it turns out, some very acceptable wines are produced here. I believe that only a small portion are exported to the US so they are not as well known as west European wines.
The daily rides were fun as we would generally end up at a winery around noon. The owners would give us a tour and then provided us a delicious lunch with some tasty beverages. Of course, staying on a straight course after lunch was key.
Hungary is a beautiful country and the people are really nice. There is some interesting architecture in both the country side and in Budpest. Below is an old church that we visited on our first day out. In Budapest we did a river cruise and passed by the elegant parliament building.
Everyone on this trip thought it was great and a lot of fun. Our guides, a young man and his girl friend, announced their marriage about a year later. The whole adventure was well worth it.
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BIKE RIDE ACROSS GEORGIA (BRAG) 2012 Since 2006 I have headed to Georgia for the annual BRAG ride. The ride generally has between 1000 to 1500 riders participating in this cross-state bike ride. Following our initial ride in 2006, we … Continue reading