My 11-year-old son Tommy recently wrote this poem, which I share with his permission:
inspired by “Mother to Son” by Langston Hughes
Well, boy, I’ll tell you:
Life for me ain’t been no ski run.
There’s been huge wipeouts,
And ice patches,
And big jumps,
And hot chocolate burning your mouth-
But all the time
I’ve been gettin’ back up,
Strappin’ my boots on again,
And takin’ the hardest trail
‘Till there is no light.
So boy don’t you turn back now.
Don’t you unstrap your skis.
‘Cause your cold and tired.
Boy, don’t you turn back now-
For I’m still skiin’,
I’m still carvin’ tracks in the snow,
And life for me ain’t been no ski run.
I’ll admit to a healthy dose of mother pride when I read what he wrote – I love that he feels inspired to imitate poems he reads and loves. But what it also elicits in me is a strong feeling of gratitude.
Gratitude that Tommy has wonderful teachers who have taught him the beauty and value of poetry.
Gratitude that we have access to so many books in our house in which he can find inspiration.
Gratitude that he is an avid reader who thinks continually about the words he reads, who finds information all around him via the written word.
Turning gratitude into action
With Thanksgiving upon us, this is a week for gratitude in the United States. And what better time to kick off the annual Passports with Purpose fundraiser? Since 2008 the travel blogging community has come together to raise money to fund a variety projects in the developing world, all of them designed to help people in concrete and long-lasting ways.
I’m so happy to have the chance to turn my gratitude into a tangible means of helping other children attain what my own boys have and delight in: The ability to read. Access to books and education. A classroom with teachers that delight and inspire them.
This year Passports with Purpose is raising $115,000 to fund three primary schools and three adult literacy programs in southern Mali, Africa with the charity buildOn.org.
Mali is the fifth poorest country in the world according to the UN Human Development Index, and has one of the lowest literacy rates in the world as well, especially among girls and women.
The good news is that Mali is gradually becoming more stable after a rebel takeover and coup. Presidential and parliamentary elections have both been held in the last six months and so this is an ideal time to encourage autonomy and education among a population that has seen its share of turmoil and bloodshed.
And with over 500 schools constructed in some of the poorest countries in the world, our charity partner buildOn.org knows how to work with local communities as a partner in all of their construction efforts. They also make sure that women and girls are educated equally; 49 percent of the students in their schools are female.
I love to think that children like my son – bright, eager to learn, lovers of reading – will get the opportunity to write their own poems thanks to the money we raise.
A skier’s dream prize thanks to Vail Resorts
There’s another reason that I wanted to share Tommy’s poem as part of my Passports with Purpose appeal. It just so happens to connect beautifully to the prize that my sponsor Vail Resorts is donating.
I’m proud to announce that for each $10 you donate to Passports with Purpose you can enter to win an Epic Pass from Vail Resorts for the 2013-14 ski season!
The Epic Pass gives you unlimited and unrestricted access to Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Eldora, and Arapahoe Basin ski resorts in Colorado as well as Heavenly, Northstar, and Kirkwood ski resorts in California and Canyons in Utah. And if all that U.S. skiing isn’t enough for you, this pass also includes five days each at Verbier, Switzerland; Arlberg, Austria, and Les Trois Vallees, France.
I’ve skied with my family at two Vail Resorts: Keystone and Northstar and am a big fan of both. These mountains offer great terrain, world-class restaurants, and loads of family-friendly skiing fun. With this pass, valued at over $700, you’ll have access to some of the best skiing North America and Europe have to offer.
And if you’re not in the market for a ski pass, don’t worry. In fact, from hotel stays to tours to luggage there are loads of fabulous prizes. Every $10 that you donate to Passports with Purpose goes directly to fund our project with buildOn and also gets you one chance toward the prize of your choice. You can donate $50 and split your chances among five different prizes or put all your money toward one prize of your choice.
To browse the other prizes and donate for chances to win, please visit the Passports with Purpose prize catalogue between today and December 9, 2013. And if you feel like helping even more, you might use one of those buttons up at the top of this post to spread the word. Since our fundraiser takes place entirely online, we look to lots of social media love using the hashtag #PWP to get the word out.
And finally – when I talked about gratitude at the beginning of this post, there’s one thing I’m thankful for that I didn’t mention and that’s all of my readers. It’s because of your generosity that we’re able to raise money for these important project year after year. Thank you.
Want to learn more about Passports with Purpose and the work we do?
Last spring I had the privilege to visit Haiti and see firsthand how the money raised by Passports with Purpose helps people. You can read about my experience here:
I couldn’t have gone to Haiti without the help of Expedia, the Passports with Purpose Platinum Sponsor this year and last.Our fundraiser wouldn’t happen without their support and that of our other sponsors: