Friday, June 26, 2009

Another Dream in the works...

On November 19th, 2007 I set off on a journey. The original plan was to visit a few different regions of the world in a 10 month stretch. I wanted to go to South East Asia, India, Northern Africa, spend a small amount of time in Eastern Europe then head to South America where I would finish off the trip with a hike up to Macchu Picchu in Peru before heading home. So, I got the around the world plane ticket, I sold the car, boxed up all my stuff and took off for a great adventure.

Well...things changed up a bit...

I saw the sights in South East Asia, I stretched out in an ashram in India, I lived in Barcelona, I climbed the pyramids in Egypt and I hiked all over South America. While I was in Buenos Aires it was time to make a decision. I had just arrived to Argentina and my trip was near the end. My plane ticket back to San Francisco was departing within a few days. So...I decided not to get on the plane.

I ended up staying in B's A's for a few weeks. I went to Santiago de Chile to live and study Spanish and I eventually made my way to Machu Pichu to see the amazing ruins. So again...I was left with a decision. My journey was over. Do I go home and get back to the grind at work? Or, do I put together one last adventure?

The Last Hill Before Home, a grassroots fundraising event aimed to raise funds and awareness for children living in poverty in Central America, became that "one last adventure". I decided to do an inspirational event that would bring attention to the plight and struggle that these children face everyday. I decided to ride a bike from Panama City, Panama back to San Francisco, CA. The entire trip would cross 8 countries, take a little over 3 months and span over 3,500 miles. I had never been on a rode bike before but I thought to myself...just do it! Luckily my great friend, Mike T, met me for the first 2 weeks but after that...I was alone!

I hooked up with a NGO non profit called Plan USA. At first Plan was a bit tentative to let me do this crazy event in the name of their organization. After speaking with some people at Plan and putting the Zukoski charm on I convinced them to let me have at it. After Plan saw that I was dedicated to their mission they became super supportive on many levels. Aside from sending out my blog and fundraising information to their entire support network, via the Plan USA newsletter, they also helped me understand more about their organization and what exactly they did. For example, they took me to different Plan sponsored communities in Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala. A truly life changing experience.

On April 25th, 2009 I rode my bike across the Golden gate bridge and finally made it back home to San Francisco after 17 months and 7 days, including the 3 month and 7 day bike trip. What a wild ride!

The Last Hill Before Home held two more parties for the children of Jalapa, Guatemala. We threw parties in Los Angeles and San Francisco to raise more awareness and funds for the children. date...we have raised $11,000, not bad especially since I was trying to communicate with the Last Hill board via internet shops in Central America after riding the bike for 7 plus hours a day.

Along my travels I came up with an idea. One of my hobbies is photography. Before I left for my trip I took a digital SLR camera with 3 lenses. I wanted to make sure I got all the best travel photos to show to family and friends back home. Back in India when I came up with this idea, I wanted to create some type of photo exhibit once I got back to San Francisco. I wanted to show off the cool pictures and I was hoping to make this event into some type of fundraiser. that idea, that dream is becoming a reality.

On Saturday, September 19, 2009 at 111 Minna Gallery in San Francisco we will be hosting a one day special photo show from noon to 6pm called "7 Travelers. 7 Views. Photos from Around the World." The idea is to bring 7 of my travel friends together to show off our photos from our trips. These 7 travelers I met while traveling through various parts of this amazing planet. With a bit of luck and a ton of organizing we will be able to show off our inspiring photos AND raise the remaining $4,000 needed to build this school in Guatemala.

On top of that the event is going to feature some great live music, poetry and other art work. 111 Minna is an amazing place to hold the event. I sent out the initial invitation and the facebook invite already has 700 people invited! Its going to be fun!

I must give some super props to all my friends for helping out. There's no way I can make this dream become a reality without them. Mike Ward, Erin Alonso, Steve Ly, Jay Baby, Blake Cohlan, Risa Kostis, Cindu Thomas-George, Alfredo Griffin aka DJ Orukasaki to name a few. Damn...I hope I didn't leave anyone out. There will be more thank you's to come!

I hope to see you guys at the event!

Peace, Power and Pedal


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