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'Rolling to Rebuild' Haiti
May 17, 2010
If Chris Lomen '10 had to choose any mode of transportation just to get around, it would be Rollerblading. It's a good thing, because the founder of the nonprofit Rolling to Rebuild has more than 4,000 miles ahead of him this summer.
After graduating May 30, Lomen will begin Rollerblading across the United States to raise money to rebuild schools in Haiti. In partnership with Outreach International, Lomen hopes to raise $100,000 to rebuild, restock, and revitalize approximately 10 schools in and around Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, that were destroyed in the January earthquake.
The initial idea of doing something "big" came from a summer spent in a windowless cubicle. Looking for adventure, Lomen, a Rollerblader since age 5, decided he wanted to break the world record for the longest Rollerblade journey.
|Studying around the world on St. Olaf's Global Semester, where he saw "some of the worst poverty this world has to offer," changed Lomen's outlook from record-breaking to fundraising. Photos by Evan Uribe '11/Lumen Photography.|
But studying around the world on St. Olaf's Global Semester in 2008 changed his outlook from record-breaking to fundraising.
"The Rollerblading journey wasn't about me doing something cool anymore," says Lomen. "I wanted to use it to help someone. During Global I saw some of the worst poverty this world has to offer. It's hard to walk away from that unchanged."
In addition to Outreach International, Lomen is teaming up with Creative Motion Design (for Web site design and hosting), Rollerblade (skates and other gear), St. Olaf's Pause Kitchen (which donated $1 for every pizza and 75 cents for every Peach Paradise shake sold during April), and a team of St. Olaf students helping to plan his journey.
The route in front of Lomen can be described as a big "Z." Starting in St. Paul, Lomen and his accompanying car carrying food and gear will go south to St. Louis, northeast to Maine, then back south to Key West for a total around 4,200 miles — roughly equivalent to skating from St. Olaf to Panama. Lomen's goal is to average 40 miles per day during his 100-day journey.
"I really feel called to make a difference in Haiti. Education — getting the schools reopened — is the number one priority for setting up the long-term success and vitality of Haiti. I'm absolutely passionate about this cause, and I think it's the most important thing I've ever done. The Rollerblading is simply a means to making this happen."
Check out media coverage of Lomen's adventure.