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Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Journey to Ghana

We left for Ghana on December 19th (the morning after my oldest daughter, Mikaelyn, was married and the day my other daughter, Marissa, turned 17.)

The day before our departure to Ghana.  The girls with Mikaelyn and their mother.
We flew over 9,000 miles via Houston, then London, then Lisbon, Portugal, then finally into Accra, Ghana.  We left the house at 9AM on Wednesday--fully loaded with supplies and gifts--and arrived to our hotel in Ghana at around 4PM Thursday (11PM in Ghana) for a grand total of over 30 hours of traveling.  All bags, and people, accounted for!

We each had 2 checked bags of gifts and a one carry-on with our clothes.
Before take-off in Houston bound for London on the red-eye.
The plane that carried us from London to Lisbon.  We landed after our scheduled departure to Ghana.
Thankfully, they held the plane for us (and 20 other passengers) so we stayed on schedule...mostly.
The red carpet and Christmas decorations that greeted us at the airport in Accra.

Digging Out

We have been home from Ghana for over 48 hours now and I am finally ready to share.  It feels like it's been much longer than that but my heart and mind have been a jumbled mess of emotions, exhaustion, gratitude, and perspective and I wanted things to calm down a bit before writing.  I apologize for the delay to the many supporters we have earned over the months and months of this effort and am excited to share with you the final chapters of Save-a-Thon For Africa for 2012.

As you likely know, Save-A-Thon For Africa was all about me keeping a promise to a young boy growing up in a very poor village in Africa.  Nine months ago I promised him that I would bring him and his friends soccer balls to play with and break up the monotony of the difficult lives they lead there.  I was able to engage my soccer player daughter, Kylie, to use her skills and love for soccer to help raise thousands of dollars to travel there and personally deliver the balls, school supplies for the girls, and a Christmas meal for about 300 children in this boy's village.

This picture of my two daughters and this young boy, Borges, sums up the trip as a success but there were so many other blessings along the way.  Stay tuned the next few days to this page for a detailed account of our trip.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Quick Update

We have limited wifi at the hotel now but wanted to briefly re-connect with the world outside of Africa and give you a glimpse of the last 48 hours.  All is great here as we head into Christmas Eve.

The girls, and therefore, I, had a terrible night's sleep Friday night.  They slept until about 1AM when I actually fell asleep then stayed up all night giggling and Instagramming (is that a word?!) despite my groaning and occasional snoring.  So despite the horrible night's sleep we were excited to get going for the visit to Borges' village.  The photo below is our VERY full car of 250 meals and 250 bottles of soda (bottles not cans because they like to keep the bottles to play with.)  We literally rode 3.5 hours to the village with large bags of food and gifts on our lap.  Traffic was horrible and it was a less than pleasant drive.

These next two photos are us with Borges.  His smile and gratitude for keeping my promise to him made the discomfort of the ride there, the thousands of dollars it cost to be there, and the sleepless nights made it all worth it!

We had a great time with the village and have lots more pictures to share.

Also, today we went to a smaller village about an hour from here and had an even better experience.  These kids weren't expecting us at all and we were so delighted with their happy response.

More updates as we travel to Lisbon and London in 24 hours then home and get more reliable
internet connection.

Merry Christmas from Ghana!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Ghana Update

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So, we arrived about 24 hours ago to Ghana.  Today was recovery day.  After 31 hours of traveling and fitful sleep on four different planes we slept in today until 3PM local time!  We didn't actually fall asleep until 3AM this morning so it wasn't that late but it did feel good (plus that is 8AM Utah time).

We made final logistical preparations with our great host and friend, Eric Peasah, and then bought 240 bottles of soda for the kids and ordered 300 meals of chicken and rice.

Loved being with my girls, Marissa and Kylie, today!  Tomorrow is big day as we visit the village and give the boy who inspired this adventure, Borges, his soccer ball and fulfill my promise to him.

As long as we have wifi we will keep posting pics and comments, etc. Stay tuned.  It's about to get interesting...

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Here goes SOMETHING!

Well, we start our 9,000 mile, 30 hour journey to Ghana in less than 8 hours.  We are all very excited for the adventure and the children and people we are going to help.

Thanks to all who have supported us.  It is not too late to help us help others have Christmas this year in a very remote and poor part of the world.  Still need to raise about $2,000 and every little bit counts!

Visit this ink to donate:

Stay tuned to this page to experience our journey in the coming days.

May God bless you to have a Merry Christmas and wonderful holiday season!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Promise To Keep

In case you missed the Chalk Talk 4 Charity I am posting a video slideshow of the beautiful children of Ghana set to a hugely inspirational song called "World" sung by Five For Fighting.  I love the words: "History starts now."  What my daughters and I will do in one short week, with the support of many generous donors, may seem small but what excites me is to think that this small effort may, probably will, inspire at least one of these kids to change the course of their life and rise above the cycle of poverty.  Through their efforts, supported by our action now, TODAY, change will happen.  History will be made.  It's up to us to act.  We are still more than $2,000 short of our goal to raise badly needed funds to help them.

Every little bit helps.  Thanks for watching.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Final Push! Video


So in an epic moment of clarity today I captured my feelings in a video message.  My wife, and agent if I had one, would not be happy with the fact that I am unshaven and looking exhausted in my tornado of an office.  But at least it's from the heart and genuine.  Please watch and then act!

We leave in one week and we are on the verge of doing something great with your help.


Saturday, December 8, 2012

Chalk Talk Recap

Thursday night's Chalk Talk For Charity was a success!  The Aggies were tremendous and we all had a great time.

I know there were some (perhaps many) who wanted to come but just couldn't make it (holiday parties, school night, Thursday Night Football, etc.).  You missed a great night but the good news is that since we did fall short of our fundraising goal there is still time to support us.  We are determined to keep pushing until the end to raise whatever additional funds we can to feed these children and make their Christmas special and fulfilling.  You can donate easily by clicking the button above.

Here is a recap of the evening:
Kylie with the Aggies
We raised funds by selling soccer balls, reminder bands, school kits, and T-shirts that guests could sign and give to a specific child that Kylie meets in the villages.  We will then take a picture of that child holding their gift in the village and send to the donor upon our return.  Guests loved the idea of being able to see the tangible results of their gift

Items for sale to raise funds for Africa. Balls, T-Shirts, PeopleWater, School kits.

Papa Rick preparing delicious Swedish pancakes for guests.
The Aggies Soccer Team generously donated some gear that was auctioned off, including the best prize, an autographed NCAA ball used in the first round NCAA Tournament game against BYU.  This raised additional funds for our effort.

The Silent Auction table.
The highlight of the night was nearly an hour of back and forth questions and answers by the five Aggies players who willingly donated their time to share with the audience their thoughts and experiences in soccer and life.  The ladies were fantastic and shared great stories about their soccer experiences including throwing up in a garbage can during a state cup game, whiffing a shot or two, nerves playing games, multiple yellow cards, a red card here and there, and the benefits of the PB&J sandwich to fuel themselves on game day.  They also talked about the importance of academics as a student athlete.

The Aggies waiting for the next question of the fireside chat.

They offered great advice to the younger players in the audience how to direct their own soccer career and what things they can do now to make a Division 1 school soccer team.  They shared tips on how to fuel for a game, to be confident in themselves, to be coachable, and to not be shy about approaching colleges early and often they want to play for.

My wife, Wendy, I think beautifully summed up the audience's thoughts about these great ladies.  She said: "I just want to thank you girls for being here and for sharing your thoughts tonight.  I am really impressed.  You are beautiful, articulate, good people.  I am so happy that my daughter and the other soccer players here have you to look up to."

Totally agree and let me add my thanks to these tremendous women: Natalie Norris, Ashlyn Mulford, Lauren Roundy, Maris Hamblin, and Kendra Peemberton.  Also, a big thanks to Coach Heather Cairns for her great support of the project and the evening.

Big smiles after the chalk talk.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

48 Hours Until Chalk Talk 4 Charity!

We are excited to be just about 48 hours away from the Chalk Talk 4 Charity.  The women from the Aggies Soccer Team have been so great to be willing to come and spend time with us and support Save-A-Thon.  Please come see them!!


If you haven't registered please do so now.  It's FREE and take about 45 seconds.



If you can't make it but want to support me you can donate online or send a check to Bridges To America, Inc. at the following address:

180 S 700 E
Hyde Park, UT 84318

Donate online here:

Hope to see you this Thursday night at 7PM at the Riter Mansion (168 N 100 E, Logan)!!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Local Paper Article! Read all about it.

I am grateful for our local paper, The Herald Journal, for doing a front page article on our effort yesterday.  If you didn't see it yet click here.  I am excited to be helping these kids and can't wait to get to Ghana.  I hope you will help me and my family keep raising funds for this big trip in less than 3 weeks.  Thanks!