FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
How will you change the world?
National Men’s Nonprofit Organization brings over 40 riders to RAGBRAI XLI, and they’re asking what we’re committed to do to make a difference.
The ManKind Project USA (MKP USA) and Vets Journey Home are bringing men and women from across the United States and Canada to RAGBRAI XLI. This is their second year at RAGBRAI, and they’ve doubled the size of the team from RAGBRAI XL. Last year, a lot of RAGBRAI riders noticed their bright gold jerseys with the phrase “Changing the world, one man at a time” on the back, and struck up great conversations. The jerseys will be new this year, but the tag-line will be the same, and this time they hope to have even more conversations with interested riders from across the world.
“What we’ve seen over nearly 30 years, is that each man has passion and purposeful action to offer the world, and often what he needs is support to push through whatever is holding him back from sharing those gifts,” says Mike Elser, Chairman for the ManKind Project USA, who will be riding for the second time, “We’re dedicated to supporting men to become the powerful, emotionally mature, awake, accountable and compassionate leaders and role models we need for today. Men willing to take individual and shared responsibility for creating a better future.” MKP USA has over 700 men’s groups meeting every week in locations across the country, and conducts weekend training programs for men some 70 times a year.
Elser, with his wife, Donna, celebrate their 43rd wedding anniversary on July 17 – on the way to Iowa. They credit much of the joy and success of their marriage in recent years to the ‘heart-work’ they have done together with the ManKind Project and its sister organization, Woman Within. Says Donna, “I wish we had found this work earlier, there’s so much trouble we could have avoided if we had the skills we both have today.” (Look for Donna holding the big ManKind Project flag toward the end of each day.) The ManKind Project USA is bringing some notable riders with them this year, including Scott Stoll, who spent 4 years riding around the world on a bike. He published “Falling Uphill; 25,742 miles, 1461 days, 50 countries, 6 continents & 4 moments of enlightenment on a bicycle,” which has received international recognition as a teaching tool and exploration of what’s possible when a person follows their dreams. Scott now works with youth to help them visualize their wildest dreams and start pursuing them! (theargonauts.com)
Another notable joining the team this year is Terri Strodoff of the Alma Center of Milwaukee, Wisconsin (almacenter.org). The Alma Center’s mission is to “motivate peaceful change through education in intimate relationships, family and community.” The Center is a leading provider of services and education to end relationship abuse and violence. They do this by offering gender specific training to look at the root causes of violence and helping male perpetrators take responsibility for changing them.
“We know that human beings do not enter this world intent upon doing harm and hurting each other. Violence is a learned behavior,” says Strodoff. She is joining the ManKind Project USA’s effort this year to continue raising awareness about the devastating impacts of domestic violence, and to keep showing that for many abusers and victims, there is a way past violence.
Part of this year’s effort for RAGBRAI is a collaboration with another nonprofit called Vets Journey Home, an organization that works with combat veterans, men and women, to support healing and reintegration in the wake of trauma that many combat soldiers face while deployed. Vets Journey Home has grown since 1889 from a program serving primarily Vietnam era veterans to a program that brings veterans from any conflict, and from any nation, together for a free weekend retreat in which they can share their stories and get the soul’s homecoming they may never have had. (vetsjourneyhome.org)
Says Gene McMahon, co-founder of the program, “A lot of vets come back and they’re carrying wounds deep in their heart and deep in their soul. They’re having a hard time when they come back. They’re in turmoil.” Vets Journey Home now offers programs in multiple locations across the United States.
And of course, RAGBRAI is about pedaling, right? So the ManKind Project USA is putting their pedals where their mouths are with two promotions this year. Last year they raffled off a classic TREK recumbent … this year they went for something with some swagger. They’re giving away a FELT Burner 29” in a free sweepstakes.
They’re also building a pedal-powered smoothie maker. Eric Bourgault, originally from Quebec, Canada, is bringing the experiential component to the show, after having played with the machines in Canada as part of a clean energy campaign. The smoothie maker will be part of the ManKind Project USA Expo booth in Council Bluffs, to highlight the impact that consciously created experiences have in helping men and women move through obstacles.
Bourgault, who worked with a circus for a number of years and now creates “Velomotion Concept” conscious cycling tours (find it on Google) is excited about being a promoter for this year’s RAGBRAI team. “I want to make sure we connect the people to WHY we are here, and WHY we are doing this work. How are you going to change the world? What will be possible if you turn your old hardships and troubles into something sweet and nourishing that you can share with the world?”
Look for Eric on the FELT cruiser as the team moves across the state. With support from Bike Masters in Omaha, the bike will be on display at the Expo and in ending towns along the way, and raffled off in Fairfield on day 6. The live raffle will be held at Fairfield Nutrition on the west side of the square in the evening on Friday.
And when you see “Changing the world, one man at a time,” on the back of a jersey, strike up a conversation!
For more information on the ManKind Project USA at RAGBRAI, visit ragbrai.mkp.org.
Communications & Marketing Director
ManKind Project USA
ALSO A RIDER at RAGBRAI XLI!!
I will be on hand every day – live tweeting and facebooking from the road – happy to make connections and be interviewed for the ManKind Project USA.