Hi Steve! Thanks for agreeing to do a Q&A for my blog to help get the word out about what you are doing!
Jumping right in to why you are one of my featured friends for a Q&A post: You are doing something really cool next month (June 8-9th) to raise money for something that is very prevalent in Africa. Tell us about it!
Well let me start by introducing myself. My name is Steve Hill, I live in a suburb of Indianapolis called Fishers, Indiana and I’m the creator of a two-day, 160 mile charity skateboard ride called Skate Across Indiana. The ride, which will span the width of the state of Indiana going west to east, benefits HIV/AIDS education and prevention programs in sub-Saharan Africa.
Now the organization you are raising money for is Christian World Outreach and their work in Zambia & Zimbabwe. How did you get involved with their work initially?
I was introduced to CWO through my parents who have supporting them for a number of years. Back in 2009, I had what I believe to be a God-given calling to travel to Haiti and serve the people there. I ended up going there by myself during the first week in 2010 and working with CWO’s president and some of their Haitian staff members. There I was able to see firsthand the efforts CWO was making to serve and minister to people in the third world. I realized that their ministry wasn’t simply about sharing the Gospel, nor was it solely about providing humanitarian care. It was truly about equipping people with the skills they needed to provide for themselves and their families while providing them with their immediate needs and introducing them to the love of Christ. I returned from Haiti three days before that massive earthquake destroyed much of that country’s infrastructure and cost hundreds of thousands their lives. Having just returned from Haiti, I had a tremendous platform to share my experiences and coach groups on how to best aid the relief effort. I continued to support CWO through that time period and well on into the future.
When I first conceived the idea for Skate Across Indiana, I knew I wanted to use it to benefit CWO. I contacted their president, who I had become friends with while in Haiti and asked how I might best help his organization. He quickly told me that their greatest need was with their AIDS programs in Africa. After he briefly explained to me the nature of the programs, I was immediately on board.
Is there any specific reason you wanted to raise money for the work CWO is doing with HIV/AIDS in Africa?
The thing people need to understand about the HIV/AIDS epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa is that it is often viewed very differently there than in the States. In certain areas of Africa, both those who contract the virus and those who are orphaned by it are frequently shunned like modern-day lepers. Some view the disease as a curse brought on by an individual’s past transgressions. CWO’s programs teach people not only how to remain HIV-negative and where to receive testing and treatment, but they also teach them how to react lovingly towards those who have the disease. The programs also provide orphans of the disease with a stable environment to grow up in where they can remain within their communities without being institutionalized.
When did you first start contemplating doing this?
The whole idea came from a documentary I watched a few years ago called 10 MPH. It was about a group of guys who quit their jobs to ride a segway across the United States. I wanted to do something similar and I wanted to incorporate skateboarding into the mix. I kicked around the idea for a few more years, finally committing to doing it this past winter.
Here in the South, we do barbecue chicken dinners or yard sales as fundraisers. I’m curious as to why- why did you choose skateboarding?
As much as I love Bojangles, I love skateboarding so much more. I’ve been skateboarding for the better part of 11 years and as young person, it was instrumental in giving me an identity. Those that stick with skateboarding into adulthood typically do so because they’ve gotten into related side projects like photography, video production, ramp building, or even entrepreneurship. I chose to skateboard across Indiana because it combined my love for skateboarding with another passion of mine, adventure, in a truly unique and exciting way. I’ll admit that it’s a little crazy, but that’s what I like about it.
How have you been preparing yourself mentally, physically, emotionally & spiritually for the Skate Across Indiana?
Physically, I work out six days a week. Typically I’ll run 15-20 miles, bike 20, and complete two or three high intensity interval workouts (think Insanity or P90X) in a given week. More recently I’ve been doing 25+ mile training rides on a skateboard to get ready. That’s all in conjunction with a much stricter diet than I’ve kept in the past. I really try to focus on eating a vegetable and protein rich diet without much in the way of artificial or processed foods.
Many of the exercises I do are strenuous and have really helped me improve my focus. Ultimately you can’t totally prepare for something like this. Although I’m confident in my physical ability and my mental fortitude, I’m doing something that no one has ever done before so there’s only so much that I can prepare for. I do expect that a significant part of the attention generated by this event will focus on me, but the fact that at the end of the day this event is about helping people who are in real need, provides me with a huge emotional boost. Likewise there’s a passage in Psalm 121 that I’ve tried to remind myself of on a regular basis that says; “I lift my eyes up to the mountains, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, creator of heaven and earth.”
Wow, that definitely sounds like intense preparation. Have you had lots of support so far? What can people do should they choose to donate or sponsor you?
I have had support come in steadily. My goal is to raise $2000 through this event and I’m confident that many of the people I’ve shared the event with will support the event financially. If you visit http://stevenahill.com/give, you’ll find all of the information you need to know about supporting the cause.
How would you describe your feelings/thoughts/expectations about your ride in a few weeks?
A large part of me is just really excited to get riding. I’m very much looking forward to getting on the road and working through this long ride. Admittedly the process of planning this event and soliciting for donations has been stressful. When things don’t go the way you were hoping they would, it can be a little discouraging, but it’s in those times when I just have to rely on my relationship with Christ for strength and remind myself why I’m doing this. I think it’s easy to get bogged down in the details and miss out on more meaningful things.
If Skate Across Indiana turns out to be successful in raising lots of money for CWO, would you ever do it again? Or maybe go to a different state… like Illinois (210 miles in length), North Carolina (500 miles) or Montana (559 miles)?
Ask me again when the ride is over! I’m really not sure what the future may hold in that regard. I have received interest from others in participating in this type of thing in the future, whether it’s on a skateboard or some other non-motorized form of transportation. I’d love to do another state at some point though.
Are you going to be doing any tweeting or facebook updating immediately before, during, or after the ride to keep your followers updated?
I’ll definitely be tweeting a lot during the ride. I’ve been using #SkateAcrossIndiana as a way to categorize tweets under one banner. I don’t know much about going viral, but I’d love to get that hashtag trending somewhere. I set up a Skate Across Indiana-specific twitter account (@SkateIndiana) that I plan to use in conjunction with my personal account (@epiclysteve) to provide updates. Both are public, so anyone can visit Twitter and get the latest news with what’s going on.
What are your plans for after the ride… going out to celebrate, home to relax, or something else?
That’s a good question. I know I’ll be pretty sore for the next few days after the ride, so I’ll have to take it easy to an extent. However, if I hit that goal of $2,000, I might have to pull together something a little more special.
Well I don’t know about you, but I think Steve’s Skate Across Indiana is SUCH a great idea and way to raise funds for HIV/AIDS education and prevention in sub-Saharan Africa! And it’s so unique. If you are interested in supporting Steve financially, go to his website http://stevenahill.com/give . Or if you want to simply support him spiritually, I’m sure he would appreciate the prayers! Go check out his website or his twitter- Steve is a super friendly guy and he would love to know that you stopped by to learn more about Skate Across Indiana!
And today just so happens to be his birthday! Happy Birthday Steve! Thanks for taking time out of your busy life to answer my questions!