PLEASE NOTE: If you have linked directly to this blog post from another site, please read Buckwheat's brief story here and a full magazine feature about him on his website. Then please consider donating to the Dahl Memorial Clinic, which is the focus of his yearlong effort. It's a worthy cause led by a good man for a fine little town.
Then come back and read the rest of my damned blog.
I reached my goal tonight with the effort to raise money to pay for his stolen bike, so I'm no longer taking donations. Thanks to everyone who contributed. —Tim 5/3/06
It took walking across North American to show my friend Buckwheat the beauty of the bicycle. You can (and should) read his story online, but I’ll give you the abridged version here. Carlin “Buckwheat” Donahue—one of the nicest and funniest guys on the planet—lives in the little town of Skagway. More than two years ago, he suffered congestive heart failure while visiting Juneau, which was a good place to have a bad thing happen. The little clinic in Skagway isn’t equipped for that kind of emergency, and he might have died if he’d been there at the time.
Long story short, Buckwheat decided to change his life. He lost weight, and started walking long distances to rebuild his heart. He amazed doctors with his recovery. Last October, on the second anniversary of his heart failure, he left Miami, Fla., to walk across North America in an effort to raise money to improve the Skagway clinic for the benefit of everyone in town. He has until the end of September to complete the trip before he has to return to work as Skagway's tourism director or lose his job and health insurance.
Diabetes-related foot problems plagued the early weeks, and he fell behind schedule. His feet improved and he’s been trucking along ever since, and even got back on schedule thanks to a borrowed bicycle, which he pedaled across parts of Manitoba and Alberta over the past few weeks.
He called me on Thursday from the highway outside Fort St. John, British Columbia, and expressed his joy at being so close to Alaska. He still has five months to go and the Yukon River to float on his way toward Nome, but he knows he’s back in home territory. The bike, he said, was amazing. He marveled at the miles he could cover each day. He said it “felt sinful” to travel so easily. He’s ready for more.
Unfortunately, he forgot to lock up before entering the Fort St. John public library. Even little towns in British Columbia have bike-stealing scum. Now the man who has gone without a paycheck for seven months and spent pretty much all of his money in an effort to help his town has to come up with $1,200 to cover the borrowed mountain bike.
I don’t like asking people for money, but for Buckwheat I’m willing to make an exception. I’ve put a PayPal button on this blog and I’d love to be able to call Buckwheat’s cell phone as he crosses the Yukon Territory and tell him that his fellow cyclists are welcoming him to the tribe by paying off at least a portion of the bike.
If you can spare $5, $10, or anything else, I’ll use all the money to pay down his bike debt. If by some miracle I manage to raise more than $1,200 through my blogging and e-mail drive, I’ll send any leftover money to the Skagway clinic fund in the name of all the bicyclists who read this blog.
Donations can also be made directly into a special account at any branch of Alaska USA Federal Credit Union. If you wish to do it that way, send an e-mail to me via the link on the right side of your screen, and I can provide the account information.
Spread the word. Post a link on your own blog or tell a couple of friends.
Let’s help a brother out.