GAR – What is the Glaucoma Awareness Ride?

For starters, it’s a motorcycle ride from the top of Alaska to the bottom of South America. But it’s much more than that.  

It’s also designed to raise glaucoma awareness in all of the Americas by using a personal odyssey and adventure to attract an audience.  It then informs through interviews and stories with researchers and doctors along the way.

And it inspires through sharing the stories  of glaucoma patients who’ve overcome hardships to live full and productive lives.

Personal Odyssey

The thread that ties everything together is the story of my motorcycle ride from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska to Tierra del Fuego, Argentina.  On it I’ll travel through western North America, Central America, and western South America.

Along the way I will share my own experiences from having glaucoma. Five years ago I noticed “odd things” happening with my vision – like things weren’t there.  I went in to see an ophthalmologist and was diagnosed with severe glaucoma. I’d lost approximately 90% of the vision in my right eye and half in my left.

As a former photographer and outdoor adventurer I was devastated and slipped into depression.  I also didn’t know what the outcome would be – could I go completely blind?  Anger, grief, sadness, hopelessness – it all piled up. At the lowest point I contemplated “checking out.”

Rebooting with a Bucket List

But a voice inside – seemingly coming from beyond me – said Do your bucket list.  It was a suggestion I couldn’t refuse.

The first item was “kayak down the Grand Canyon”.  On that trip grace intervened and I finally faced my dark side. For two hours I went through the “eye of the needle”.   The grief, sadness and darkness I’d felt for years crashed inward.

I came out the other side with the will to live and carry on.  I wrote a book about the experience called From Grief to Grace and it won the Transformational Author Writing Contest.

The second bucket list item was “Do a solo ride of the Continental Divide”.   It’s a motorcycle adventure ride from Mexico to Canada on remote dirt roads up the spine of the country.  It took two months to do it.

And – with the goal of doing more inner work – I used an ancient energy system called “the chakra system” to begin rebuilding my life. The chakras cover the full spectrum of life including survival, pleasure, power, love, communication, vision and spirit. I focused on a chakra per week and am now writing a book about that experience called From Grace to Growth.

The third – and final – item on the bucket list is this ride from Alaska to Argentina.  It’s sometimes called “Top to Bottom” because it goes from the top of North America to the bottom of South America.  It will take six or more months to complete, and the theme will be Giving.

Showcase Important Researchers & Exceptional Doctors

To do that, I will use my professional background in journalism, storytelling and online media to bring attention to the disease that has impacted my life so much. My intention is to help glaucoma groups and associations achieve their awareness objectives by interviewing doctors who are providing exceptional service to their patients, and also by interviewing researchers who are looking for cures.

Some of the intended objectives are to:

  • Visit and report on research centers to raise awareness of possible new cures.
  • Interview doctors who are providing exceptional service to their patients.
  • Do fund raising for glaucoma awareness so that people can learn how to cope with the disease, where to get help, and where to find more information.

Providing Hope & Inspiring Others

I also want bring focus to those who have glaucoma. I’ll start by describing my my own journey, then expand on it by interviewing other glaucoma patients with inspiring stories.  These stories can both give hope and inform others on how to cope with and move beyond the confines of glaucoma.

I’ll do this by:

  • Visiting with inspiring patients who’ve been stricken with the disease, but have managed to accomplish great things anyway.
  • Speaking before various groups about my own experience.
  • Build awareness through blog posts and social media updates that tracks my journey.
  • Providing online and other resources through this website.

Book and Documentary

This journey will provide the content for my third book in the trilogy I’m writing.  If there is sufficient interesting and resources available, I will also create a documentary film about the experience.

Riding a motorcycle from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska to Tierra del Fuego, Argentina. But that’s the easy part. My goal is to do it as a glaucoma awareness ride. So I’d be interviewing exceptional doctors, researchers & patients along the way to inspire and inform others.

More info:

Good link showing the whole trip.