By Susan Monteleone
YULAN October 7, 2005 When Bill and Nancy Hofaker and their two grandchildren, Courtney and Rachel, noticed a lady with a horse and a pack horse behind her, they knew she was trotting down the road for a cause.
They never imagined a special friendship would develop, however.
Last week, Mary Howe of Wilmont, New Hampshire was riding through Sullivan County on her quest to raise awareness of environmental pediatric research at the Childrens Hospital in Boston.
Shes since headed into Pennsylvania on her way to Kentucky, sticking mainly to country roads so the horses do not get spooked. Such a path which took her from Grahamsville to Barryville last week (and the week before) means she is able to talk to more people, too.
"I am not doing this just for the money that is being donated when people see me or visit my website, she explained late last week. I am doing this to make people aware of the importance of saving our environment and for people to be aware of just how much the malignancy rate in children is rising. Children every day are getting diagnosed with cancer, leukemia, asthma and so many other illnesses that maybe with a little awareness on our part that can be prevented.
Shes currently riding only three miles a day on her horse, aiming for more than 1,000 miles in total. She camps when and where she can, but many people have asked her to stay with them when theyve learned of her cause like the Hofakers of Yulan.
"I cannot thank all the people along the way that have helped me, said Howe. The Hofakers have been great people, and their granddaughters have taken good care of my horses too.
"When we saw Mary coming down the hill, my granddaughter Courtney was drawn right to the horses, Bill Hofaker recalled. Mary stopped, and we began to talk. She stayed with my family for two days. My granddaughters helped to set up the area for the horses and were up there all the time with them.
"We have developed a very strong friendship with Mary, he added. She has not totally convinced me not to use my microwave yet, but she has made me more aware of certain things. Just recently we had a family member die of leukemia who was only a child, and what Mary has talked to us about really hit home.
My wife Nancy and I will be doing more to protect the environment and giving up the microwave, he remarked, then paused with a smile. Well . . . that will take time!
We wish Mary all the best on her journey.
Howe is hoping to raise not only awareness but money, as well, through the ride and her website, livinginpurpose.com, where you can pledge a gift or purchase a t-shirt. All the money raised goes to help the ride and to the Childrens Hospital in Boston.
Howe believes that, through spreading the word, people will stop burning plastic, using the microwave, burning package materials and simply be more aware of their environment.
"People just do not realize the amount of toxins that are released in the air when they burn plastics or the amount of rays that are released when they use their microwaves, she stated. This can be avoided! We need, for example, to send back all that packing material we get from companies and tell them to think of other concepts. Our children are important, our grandchildren are important and their children are important. We need to recycle, and if we do a little bit each day, then hopefully some of the toxins that cause childrens sickness will no longer be released into the air we breath.
"On another note, it is not only bad that our children are breathing in these toxins, but also our wildlife is breathing this stuff, and they are suffering too. We throw garbage out our car windows, and that hurts our wildlife, as they eat the garbage. We also need to protect our wildlife. This is our earth, and we need to do what we can. We only have one, and people need to protect and recycle it," added Howe.
According to Howe, 40 percent of dioxins that are released in the air are due to backyard burning.