Archive for May, 2010

Eight Years and Counting

May 23, 2010

 

By Ed Chasteen

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May 22, 2004, Ride

May 22, 2004, Ride

For eight years now hundred of us have gathered on the Saturday before Memorial Day weekends. We come before sunup to Biscari Brothers Bicycles. From across the metro we come. Hundreds come to ride; scores come as volunteers. Tens of thousands of dollars we have raised for MS in theses eight years.

The Mayor of Liberty is here this morning to laud what we do. The police man a highway intersection we must cross. Rest stops await us in Orrick, Richmond, Rayville and Excelsior Springs. The route has been marked. Motorcycles and SAG vehicles go with us.

Riders depart at 7 AM. All ride together for ten miles. The 38-mile route turns left and heads for Excelsior Springs. The 70-mile route continues to Orrick, Fleming, Camden, Richmond, Rayville and to Excelsior Springs. All return to Liberty by the same route. At two o’clock the route closes, and any riders still out are picked up and brought in.

 

5th Annual Greater Liberty Ride for MS - May 19, 2007

5th Annual Greater Liberty Ride for MS – May 19, 2007

The ride is over. Signs that marked the route are picked up. Food and water that supplied the rest stops are returned to the bike shop. The tents set up in the parking lot in front of the bike shop are taken down. Tables are hauled away. The portable toilets are taken away. We all go home.

Half-a dozen of us have been meeting since January to plan this bike ride. About every two weeks. At someone’s home. Or the bike shop. Over pizza. We planned. Now the ride has come. It was good. But now we have no reason to meet.

 

7th Annual Greater Liberty Ride for MS - May 30, 2009

7th Annual Greater Liberty Ride for MS – May 30, 2009

This ride, like the seven that came before, we who planned it have experienced four times. Once when it was yet a dream, a nebulous idea with no form or substance. Second, in the planning, as we gave life and put on paper the details. Third, the actual ride and the much work, and fourth, in memory, as we look back.

When first we did these rides we call the Greater Ride for MS, we wanted to raise the greatest number of dollars. Sometime back, though, other desires assumed equal billing. Some of us who plan the ride have MS. Others who plan have loved ones with MS. Raising money is important to us. So, though, is working together to plan the ride. We have grown close. Become friends. The bike shop has become a magnet, drawing us together.

Our first order of business every fall is to decide if we want to do another Greater Liberty Ride for MS. It’s a lot of work. We are busy people. Eight years running we’ve given a thumbs up to another year. Our ride would not work without the half-dozen who bring special skills and mind sets. Each of us supplies a vital part. Minus anyone of us the whole would probably stop. We will find out this fall what our future holds.

8th Annual Greater Liberty Ride for MS Raffle Items

May 14, 2010

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Setting at Liberty Those Who Live with Limitations

Box 442                                                                                  816-803-8371

Liberty, MO 64069                                                              hatebusters@aol.com

www.greaterliberty.org

In addition to a great ride, we have: A RAFFLE            Buy your ticket on line or in person the morning of the ride. The drawing will be at 2 PM as the ride ends. You do not have to be present to win.

Raffle

 

Two new bicycles

Dinners for two at

Fubbler’s Cove, Orrick

            Mill Inn, Excelsior Springs

            Van Till Farms, Rayville

            Willow Spring Mercantile, Excelsior Springs

            Sarah’s Table, Kearney

            Catricks, Lawson

            Lowman’s, Smithville

Cook’s Corner, Dearborn

Harmer’s, Edgerton

Country Cookin, Platte City

JJ’s Plattsburg

T-shirts

            Ray’s Diner,

            Mushroom Festival

            HateBusters

            The Pedalin’ Prof

Ed’s Books

            Runner

            How To Like People Who Are not Like You

            Talking To My Bicycle

            William Jewell College: My Camelot

 

Free tickets to see The Karate Kid will be given to some lucky folks

Mike Visits Orrick

May 14, 2010

By Ed Chasteen

Mike Moore and his wife, Lillie, live in Cameron. Mike rides our Greater Liberty Ride for MS every May and the MS-150 every September. Lilly has MS. Mike and Lillie will be here for our 8th Annual Greater Liberty Ride for MS on May 22. Mike will ride. Lillie will meet folks.

            I got an email from Mike yesterday about his visit to Orrick. Here’s what he said.

Good Afternoon Ed,

I was in Orrick last week putting a 22 foot tall antenna on top of the tallest grain leg in town and worked right through lunch.  When I finally got down about 4:30 I was sure hoping to find a good place to eat, what a relief it was to see a sign that said Fubblers Cove!  I knew instantly I had hit the jackpot since I recognized the name from your Saturday rides!

I went in and asked the pretty young waitress what was quick and tasty, she recommended the tenderloin and fries. During my short wait I told her the reason I had chosen this cafe was because my friend Ed Chasteen and the Greater Liberty riders come here for breakfast sometimes.  I had a really nice chat with several patrons and the sweetest waitress I have had the honor to meet.  I told them about hate busters and I told them about the Pedalin Prof who rode from Disney to Disney alone and without money.

Thanks for sharing so much with all of us Ed! Oh, the tenderloin was one of the best I ever had.

 

Mike Moore

 

            I printed a copy of Mike’s letter and went to Fubbler’s for biscuits and gravy. I gave the letter to Heather when she brought my breakfast. “Were you on duty when Mike came?” I asked. “I work mornings,” she said. “Would it have been Nichole?” I asked. “Maybe. When was he here? What did she look like?” I don’t know. I’ll call Mike.”

            “She had long black hair,” Mike says when he answers. We were there on May 5, Cinco d’Mayo.” “Must have been Gabrielle,” Heather says, “She works nights.”

 

            I took up riding years ago to keep my MS at bay. I still ride for that reason. But I discovered almost at once that it wasn’t just the riding that soothed my soul and drove depression away. It was the place that bike took me and the people I met. Small town cafes! Those who own them! Work there! Eat there!

            When I have ridden there and returned home, I sit at my computer and search for the words that will give our time together proper expression. I have yet to find them. I keep trying. With me in my head as I ride and as I visit in these wondrous places go my favorite plays: Our Town, Don Quixote, Camelot, Les Miserables, Brigadoon. The feelings these play arouse in me accompany me each time I come on my bicycle to breakfast in these places where everybody knows my name.

            Unmerited good favor has come to me as it came to Jean ValJean in Les Miserables. He has been let out of prison as the story begins. He then steals from a priest who befriends him. He is caught. And taken to face the priest. When the priest confirms the theft, ValJean will go back to prison for life. He is resigned to his fate. But the priest says to the policeman, “This man did not steal. I gave him these things. And I meant to give him these others.” ValJean never finds out why the priest befriended him. Because he did, however, he is a free man. And a rich man.  The rest of his life is changed.

            Six years in a prison of depression! That where I lived after that doctor said, “You have MS. It’s a damnable disease. And you can’t be active.” That bicycle brought me back to life. The people I have breakfast with in small town cafes make my day. Every day.

            Mike’s letter made my day yesterday.

Lessons Learned on a Bicycle

May 11, 2010

8th Annual Greater Liberty Ride for MS

Saturday, May 22 is the day. It’s gonna be great! Sign up today at www.greaterliberty.org Click on register. Thinking about our ride got me to thinking about what I’ve learned on my bicycle. You might like to read below. I’ll look for you on the 22nd. Ed

Lessons Learned on a Bicycle

By Ed Chasteen

             Life is really very simple. It only seems complicated. Having Multiple Sclerosis now for 29 years and having to live a good part of my life on a bicycle in order to keep body and soul in working order has made it all crystal clear.

            When I was growing up in small town East Texas in the 1950s, I spent a lot of time in church and at revival meetings. One time I asked a visiting preacher where he learned all those powerful stories he told. “I didn’t learn ‘em son,” he said, “I lived ‘em.” Now I’ve lived ‘em. In fairly random order, here’s what I’ve learned in more than 150,000 miles on my bicycle.

The most awesome power comes from total dependence on other people.

Never listen to those who tell you to be realistic.

Trust your instincts.

Know that you can do it, whatever it is.

Do it for yourself.

Never do a thing the safe, easy, comfortable way.

The only thing worth having is something you’re not afraid to lose.

Do it just to see if you can, and if you can, what difference it makes.

Ask for what you need. Expect to get it. Take whatever comes.

Know that you are never in charge but always in the lead.

Expect goodness and genius from every person you meet.

Test everything.

Never say no.

Don’t pretend to understand.

Be comfortable with your ignorance.

Tell everybody what they want to know. Tell it simply.

Understand that there are no boundaries on your soul.

Seek a world where anyone can go anyplace at anytime and talk to anyone about anything and feel safe.

Live as if the impossible is routine and the routine is impossible.

Expect a miracle every time you answer the phone or open a letter.

Look for God between people rather than in people

When you go somewhere you haven’t been before, expect to find yourself already there.

Understand that nothing means anything until you make it mean something.

Nothing is discovered. Everything is invented.

To love another person you must first love yourself.

Knowing that I am ignorant and weak makes me wise and strong.

By myself I can do nothing. With the right others, I can do anything.

Never expect to lose.

Call everybody by the name their mother gave them.

There are no wrong turns.

When someone promises you something, consider it done. Never check.

People are not to be compared to one another.

Hatebusters at Work

May 4, 2010

By Ed Chasteen

 Odessa, Missouri

Thursday, April 29, 2010

             My wife and I were in Texas for her high school reunion when the call came. Jessica was calling from her home in Clinton, Missouri to tell me about a Neo-Nazi who planned to open an under 21 nightclub in Odessa, Missouri. Jessica’s friend, Amy, lived in Odessa and was concerned for her children.

            Two days later I sat with Amy at a restaurant in downtown Odessa and heard her concern. The man’s name was Charles Juba. He had come to the Kansas City area a few years ago from Pennsylvania to open a national headquarters for a Neo-Nazi group. Rapid and massive community opposition stopped him. He professed to have changed and wanted now to open a nightclub for young people. The Black Flag Club he called it, named for the flag carried by Civil War guerilla fighter, William Quantril. Amy and the town thought he would use the club to recruit their children to his cause.

            A special meeting of the city council had been called for that evening at 7 PM. Amy asks me to come. She would arrive early and save a seat for me. I would ride my bicycle around town for a couple of hours and meet her there. When I arrive at 6:30 the parking lot is full. By meeting time every seat is taken and the room is packed, with people standing. The mayor calls the meeting to order and introduces two ordinances affecting business applicants that the city attorney has drawn up since the council meeting three days earlier, when Mr. Juba had appeared before them with his plan. The council tables the ordinances, and the mayor opens the floor for comments.

            One after another for almost two hours speakers come to the mic. The first is a state representative who promises state action to help the town. The second is a young woman who speaks on Mr. Juba’s account. He is not present. She says he has changed and wants only to teach young people. Following her come parents, teachers, townspeople and students. Several speak directly to the young woman representing Mr, Juba, all denying he has changed and opposing his plans. Applause and shouted support follow.

            Amy asked me at the restaurant if I planned to speak. I said I had come to help and wasn’t sure I needed to speak. After half a dozen have spoken, Amy taps me on the shoulder and asks me to speak. She has gotten us front row seats. I stand to speak.

“I was invited here tonight. My students and I at William Jewell College started HateBusters years ago. We promise never to say no when asked to help where hate has come. I’ve come tonight to offer help. We give HateBusters membership cards to everyone who wants one. When people ask how many members we have, we say, “No one is born hating. So everybody is a natural born hatebuster. If you choose not to be a member, send us your name, and we will take your name off the list. Otherwise, you’re one of us. I have brought membership cards. They will be here on the table. Take one. Send me an email. I’ll put you in our HateBusters address book.”

            The mayor thanks those who have come. He announces that Mr, Juba has not completed the necessary paper work with the state and his planned opening tomorrow will be delayed ten days to two weeks.

            The next morning, the mayor receives a phone call from Mr. Juba. He withdraws his request for a business license. He will not be coming to Odessa.

 Lawrence, Kansas

Saturday, May 1, 2010

            Brian and I strap our bikes to the back of his car and set out for the 50-mile ride to Lawrence. We arrive two hours early at the Islamic Center on the edge of the KU campus, unstrap our bikes and go for a ride. We’re back at the center when Diana arrives with three of her children about 10:20. Diana has planned today’s Pedal Against Hate bike ride. We will pedal through the University of Kansas campus to a city park, where we will have lunch and I will speak.

            Diana met Bassam Helwani when they both were students at KU. Bassam is from Syria; Diana from Kansas. Bassam is Muslim; Diana was Baptist. She converted. They have been married for years, have six beautiful children and live in Lawrence.

I met Bassam a few months back when I went to visit long time friend, Yahya Furqan. I had called Yahya a few days earlier to tell him about a video I had ordered and just seen. The video, Different Books, Common Word: Baptists and Muslims, tells about Baptists and Muslims working together on community problems in five different places across America. Yahya had invited Bassam to come to his house to watch the video with us.

When the video ended, the three of us went to lunch. We laid plans. Four Friends we would call ourselves. Yahya is African-American and a Muslim Imam. I’m Caucasian-American and a Baptist preacher, Bassam is a Syrian-American. And we will invite Al Ansare to join us. Yahya and I have known Al for years. Al is African-American and a Muslim chaplain at Research Hospital. A few days later Al invites the three of us to lunch at the hospital. We Four Friends hope to visit area churches and masids to tell about our friendship and build bridges.

Bassam tells me over lunch about Culturally Speaking, an organization he and Diana started some years ago. A few days later I get an email from Diana asking me to come to Lawrence for an event she is calling Pedal Against Hate. Thus Brian and I have come today.

Promptly at 11, five of us mount our bikes and head onto campus along Naismith Avenue, past Owen Fieldhouse where the Jayhawk basketball team plays. One of our Greater Liberty Saturday riders had called Diana to ask how far we would ride today. “Three miles each way,” she told him. He was training for a triathlon and needed a longer ride. He wouldn’t be coming.

We’re not far onto campus when the road turns gently upward. For some reason, my legs turn to rubber. I have to walk. Several times. Everyone waits. “Shall I get the car?” Bassam asks. “I’m fine,” I say. “There are no more hills.” He says.

Red pepper humus, homemade pita bread, gyro meat and homemade sauce for lunch. Bassam once owned a restaurant in Kansas City. We are the beneficiaries of that history today. Yahya has come from KC. Deb from Topeka. Baha, Director of the Islamic Center of Lawrence, is here. Nineteen of us in all. Fewer than we had hoped. But we have the enthusiasm and attentiveness of hundreds. When we have eaten, Bassam calls us together. “I want us all to meet the Pedalin’ Professor. I went to Brother Yahya’s house not long ago and met Professor Ed. Now he has come to tell us about his bike ride across America and about HateBusters. Come Ed, and talk to us.”

“My aim in life is to meet every person I can and expect to like every person I meet,” I say. “I have always believed that inside every person on the planet burns a spark of goodness. I look for that spark in every person I meet. I grew up in the church. I learned that we all are created in God’s image. No one ever told me exactly what that meant. But I figured it must mean that each of us has at least a spark of goodness inside us. So I wanted to see if I could find that spark.

“The only way I could think of to find that spark was to ask for help. So I got on a bicycle in Orlando, Florida intending to ride to Seattle, Washington and down to Anaheim, California. By myself. With no money. I would ask the first person I saw in every town I came to for exactly what I needed at that moment: a drink of water, a sandwich, a bed for the night. I would expect them to say yes. If they had that spark of goodness, they would. If they said no, I would know that I’d been wrong in assuming that spark of goodness to be there.

I could take all our time today telling you about my ride. It’s a story I love to tell, and you would be inspired and encouraged by it. Disney dubbed me The Pedalin’ Prof after the ride. But we have not come here today for that story. I’ve come to tell you about HateBusters.

“I was teaching Race Relations at William Jewell College the year after my ride when a Klansman won election to the Louisiana Legislature. My students and I wanted to help the state redeem itself. We started HateBusters. The Governor of Louisiana invited us to come. We went. Word got out. We began to be invited by governors, mayors, colleges, universities, religious leaders, police departments and concerned citizens. We never say no when asked to help where hate has come. We never charge fees. What money we need is given to us by folks who like what we do.

“Now I have drawn a 125-mile circle around Liberty, the town where I live. I call every place within that circle Greater Liberty. The City of Lawrence where we are today is in Greater Liberty. I may not have chosen that name did I not live in Liberty. But the name is not meant to describe a place. It’s a principle. It is greater liberty I seek for all of us to live above and beyond those limitations of heart, mind, soul and body that we too easily accept because someone tells us we must.

“I had another reason for riding alone and without money across America. I was looking for more than that spark of goodness. I had been told six years before I got on my bike to begin that ride that I have Multiple Sclerosis. The doctor said, ‘It’s a damnable disease and you can’t be active.’

“I was depressed for years. Then one day three years into my diagnosis, I saw Brian’s old bicycle in the garage. And a crazy idea invaded my head: Get on that bike and ride. I did. Made it down the block. I was exhausted. Every now and then I’d get back on the bike. And make it a little farther. Three more years passed. I attempted a century, a hundred mile ride in one day. Half way through that ride someone said to me, ‘Ride your bike across America. If you do, MS will live on your terms.’ I looked around. No one was there.

“Now bike riding is the only medicine I take to keep my MS at bay. If I don’t ride, I can’t walk. If I ride, I can run. Not far. Not fast. But some. I ride to keep my body physically able to move and do. But my purpose in living is not simply to be healthy. My purpose is to oppose hate and teach people how to like people. If I don’t ride, I won’t have the physical fitness I need to do this. This is why all our HateBusters work is built around a bicycle.

“We have ridden to this park today so I can tell you about HateBusters and so I can give you some cards. One is your HateBusters membership card. Then I have three other cards to give you. I wrote a book called How To Like People Who Are not Like You: The Three Step Formula. I can’t carry books on my bicycle, so I reduced the book to three cards. They have the look and feel of playing cards. I just got them this week. You will be the first people I have given them to.

“Each card is a different color. The blue card is Step One. The light purple card is Step Two. The yellow card is Step Three. Step One is To Like Yourself. Step Two is To Like people Like You. Step Three is To Like People Who Are Not Like You. Each step has three parts: Believe these things; Think about these things; Do these things.

“After seeing the trouble I had riding here today, Bassam may wonder how I rode across the country. I’ve grown old doing this work. Sometimes I wish I could give it up. Sometimes briefly I do. But something always pulls me back. It’s my reason for living. I cannot quit. I invite you to join me.

“May we all be blessed.”