Monday, March 31, 2014

Hiking the Appalachian Trail for BECA

We've done it, guys! We've completed our goal! Oh, no, not the raising money part. I meant the choosing a cause to hike for part.

You see, most people want to raise money for a cause and then figure out a way to do it. Andrew and I, being the unconventional people we sometimes tend to be, have wanted to hike the AT for quite some time and knew that hiking the trail would be great exposure for one of the many causes we care about. Raising money for a charity also spurs us on to complete the trail because you just don't quit when people have financially invested in your success. Barring serious emergency, it means we don't give up.

The reality is that since the trail's opening in the 1930's, only 14,485 people have completed the hike from Georgia to Maine (or vice-versa). Every year, thousands attempt it and only 1/4th of them complete the thru-hike. It is a time-consuming, money consuming exercise in mental and physical fortitude, requiring hikers to put their entire lives on hold and rewarding them with a truly once in a lifetime experience. It means grueling hikes through roots and rocks and all sorts of weather, and eating entire jars of peanut butter just to make up for lost calories. Of course there's a lot of beautiful and amazing things to be seen and heard on the trail as well, but it is by no means a walk in the park.

Hiking for a charity is the motivation to keep us going when the going gets tough. Also tough? Choosing the charity we wanted to support. We had considered everything, from the Vermilion County Conservation District where Andrew and I first learned to love and appreciate all things nature, to Stray Rescue St. Louis and the Endangered Wolf Center, to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society because we have a cousin who battled with cancer and lost, and we don't want anyone to ever have to experience the same. It really was a tough decision.

Eventually, I settled on BECA. Bilingual Education for Central America is doing amazing work in Honduras, providing bilingual education for children regardless of economic status. Two of my friends have taught for them and one continues to do so. Those of you who know me personally probably know the effect of my visit to Honduras has had on me, and I am so excited to help give these eager children the chance to for a better life.

Choosing BECA was important not only because of my personal connection, but because it was very important to me to choose a cause with little overhead. 88% of the donations to BECA go directly to school related expenses, while 6% goes to perpetuating fundraisers and 5% goes to administrative and managerial costs. I knew if we complete our task in raising money for the schools, then the children and the Honduran communities would benefit the absolute most. Whether it's 100 or 20,000, every dollar will help significantly.

It's also important because BECA does not operate under the assumption that Rich White Americans are going to swoop in and save the Poor Brown Folk. BECA works with local communities in Honduras, providing the framework and resources for success. The Hondurans are involved in every aspect of the school's involvement and place as a safe center for the community. Donating to BECA means that these children and these families now have a foothold with which they can better their lives, towns, and country.

You may be wondering why I didn't choose a cause based in the United States that would help out domestically. The truth is that, like I said above, both Andrew and I have many organizations we're passionate about and would devote endless resources to if we had the means to do so. However, I feel that it's important as global citizens to look beyond borders and recognize a child wanting to learn deserves a strong education. Period.

Andrew and I come from a family of educators, so it's fitting to hike 2100 miles for a cause that champions a strong education for children who may not have received one otherwise. I will be in contact with my friend Leah and her class along the trail, and will post letters and updates when we have internet access.

I know it's still a year away, but please consider donating and spreading the word. Hang a sign at your work, tell your friends and family, and check out BECA's website to see what they're all about. I really want this to go far, and I need your help in doing it.

If you'd like to donate, you can donate here on the GoFundMe page


If you'd like to help offset some costs of the trail and help me hike for these kids, donate here

Maybe you want to get closer to crunch time to donate so that you're sure this is going to happen. If so, I understand. But please, please, PLEASE keep this on the backburner. With all of our love and gratitude, we thank you for making a difference in not only our own lives, but in the lives of everyone involved with BECA both at home and abroad.

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