Road warrior visits county

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 18, 2000

When Sarah Ray rolled south on Highway 31 between Montgomery and Butler County last week, the unseasonably warm weather not only caused sweat to drip from her brow, but also helped remind her of the purpose of her trip.

As an environmentalist determined to advance the cause of "ecologically friendly" organizations and businesses, Sarah decided that a bicycle trip from her home in Hilton Head, S.C., to Monclova Mexico would be a perfect way to draw attention to what she was trying to do.

"I# think bicycling is a solution for a lot of problems in this country," said the 38-year-old mother of two. "Not only does it combat the problems of pollution and fuel consumption, but it also works to fight obesity, depression and other health problems. It is slower than other forms of transportation, of course, but it is probably the most healthy way to get from one place to another."

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Slow is something Sarah knows a little about. She is not a natural athlete, as would be expected from someone undertaking an 1,800 mile bicycle trek, but she is what she considers a "normal person," just trying to take a stand for the earth in her own little way. The bike she is riding weighs about 100 pounds fully loaded with the gear she will need along the way, and causes her to slow to a mere crawl during the up-hill portions of the trip.

And, while her visit to Butler County represented the completion of about one-third of her trip (her odometer measured 600 overall miles during the leg between Montgomery and Greenville), Sarah knows that she has a long way to go with the bike trip and her cause.

Sarah started a business about two years ago called Earth Warriors Venture with the goal of helping people finding "Earth friendly" ways to live.

As part of her business, she has gathered a database of businesses and organizations that think about the Earth as part of their normal way of doing business. Whether someone is interested in finding organic food and clothing or an architect who will design and build a home without disturbing the natural surroundings, Sarah said she can help track down the goods or services being sought.

"A lot of people are thinking about the future and are trying not to poison the earth," she said. "We want to promote people impacting the environment as little as possible and encourage the market for organic goods and services."

Sarah said that most people, if educated to the facts, would prefer to use materials and services that are ecologically sound, but there are other reasons why these products aren't more popular.

"I think most people want to do what is right for the Earth, but it is very expensive," she said. "I# am trying to work to bring prices down so that people have a real choice and can make the decision based on what they believe instead of what they can afford."

Earth Warrior Venture has taken off slowly, but Sarah said it has gotten off the ground. She has begun recruiting representatives in other countries in Europe, as well as places like New Zealand, Malaysia and Mexico, and she continues to look for representatives around the world and across the nation.

"#I find most of my contacts through the Internet, but # have made a number of contacts along the way on this trip," she said. "All it takes is a commitment to the Earth and the desire to protect it for future generations."

Sarah is using her bicycle trip to help raise awareness, but also to help raise money for different non-profit organizations committed to preserving natural resources. She said that while the main purpose of her effort is to simply get people thinking about the future, a number of people have offered financial support along the way.

"It is hard to really sell people on providing funds before you start something like this," she said. "But, when people see that you're serious it is easier to get them to donate to the cause."

Raising awareness and money are the main reasons for Sarah's trip, but she said she also has some personal motivation for the effort. She and every member of her family have all fallen victim to cancer in one form or another. Sarah was diagnosed with cancer in 1982, but now has a clean bill of health, both of her sisters are now fighting the disease and her mother and father have both successfully fought a battle. She said the trek to Mexico is a personal way she can honor the bravery of everyone who has ever had to face a battle with the disease and stand as a reminder to those who might face a battle in the future.

Sarah said she wanted to leave everyone she meets with one simple message: "protect the Earth."

"We need to respect mother Earth, because it is the only one we have and there is nowhere else we can go," she said. "God gave it to use to take care of and we have to respect that gift.

"People often confuse the word "dominion" in the Bible with the word "domination." Dominion means stewardship, and each person should work in his or her own way to become stewards of the planet that gives us all life."

Sarah left Hilton Head on February 14 and expects to arrive at her final destination on Earth Day, April 22.