By Danette Knickmeier
A few years ago, I saw a tiny article in a weekly news magazine about an event called the Climate Ride. It was described as a bike ride in Northern California that raises funds and awareness for the environment.
As an avid cyclist, a self-proclaimed treehugger and Midwesterner who, for many years, has had a serious case of California Dreaming, I knew this was an event I would participate in someday.
Cycling has been a passion of mine for a long time. In 2001, I participated in my first charity event—the Minneapolis to Chicago AidsRide. I had mostly been into mountain biking before that, but I soon bought my first road bike, trained like a crazy person, raised $3200 and had the most amazing time of my life.
Since then, I’ve been hooked on all things cycling. In the past few years, I found myself riding everywhere and in all kinds of weather. Last May, I decided to give up my car for good and have been relying on biking, public transportation and car share programs to get around. It has been an amazing and challenging experience that I have never once regretted.
Since I first saw that article about the Climate Ride, events in the Northeast and the Midwest have appeared on my radar. Last year, a friend heard about the Midwest ride and sent me an email with the subject “We should do this!” I immediately replied back and said, “This looks great, by my heart is set on California.”
In January, I decided this would be the year. When it came time to sign up, I was given a long list of wonderful charities to choose from that would benefit from my ride, and was told I could choose up to five.
As I scrolled through the list, I recognized many of them as organizations I’ve supported in the past, either through donations or volunteering. When I came across the Will Steger Foundation, I had to stop and think for a moment.
I wasn’t familiar with the foundation, but I remember standing in line at the Midwest Mountaineering checkout many times and seeing a larger-than-life photo of Will with his name captioned at the bottom. I had heard of him and knew he was an explorer, but that was the extent of my knowledge. So off to Google I went.
This was a no-brainer. With education at its core, I knew I had to support this foundation. For many years, I’ve done the things that one person can do—reducing, reusing and recycling—and even getting on my soapbox to try and change the behavior of others. Probably not the best way to enlist change, but it made me feel better.
The Will Steger Foundation (newly re-named Climate Generation: A Will Steger Legacy), on the other hand, is doing it the right way, focusing its education efforts on empowering educators, youth and the general public to engage in solutions to climate change.
When I hit the road on Day 1 of the 2015 Climate Ride on the morning May 17, I will be smiling from ear to ear knowing that I’m supporting this great organization and everything they are doing.
Danette Knickmeier was born and raised near Madison, Wisconsin and moved to Minneapolis in 1999 to pursue a career in marketing and advertising. During her employment at a large ad agency, she was instrumental in starting the company’s composting and recycling program. She currently works for a small agency as an Account Manager and really does plan on moving to the West Coast someday. In addition to riding bicycles, she enjoys yoga, Pilates, gardening, cooking, music and travel. She volunteers with the Sierra Club and is always thinking about ways to reduce her carbon footprint.