Freedom Rider!

Freedom from preventable health issues are just a few miles away!

Medical Nutrition Therapist Anthony S. Beard, RD, LD, will go on a “freedom ride”, from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, tracing the 50 mile route taken by civil rights advocates in search of voting reforms. With all the talk of healthcare reform, the message is clear that freedom from many preventable health issues are just a few miles away, in this case, 50! This will be done to bring awareness to the health disparity in the US among African-Americans and to offer motivation to those who need a cultural reminder of the power of human will.

The route into slavery for many was a long road, littered with obstacles. Alligators, snakes, snapping turtles and disease bearing insects were the prelude, the calm before the storm of forced labor and institutional persecution. The cliché’ being “sold down the river” was taken from the fact that the popular way to move slaves to the slave markets in Natchez, Mississippi from Kentucky, was by a boat trip down the Mississippi River, or a 40 day, 750 mile overland foot march.

The road to good health is equally littered with obstacles, although more inconspicuous than reptiles and insects. From the 1940’s, when Metropolitan Life Insurance Company set standards of health, there has been a disparity between the dominant culture and African-Americans. It is a disparity that continues today. Americans of African descent suffer higher rates of most chronic diseases, especially those that have a dietary connection. African-Americans die sooner and suffer longer as a result of these conditions. Additionally, African American health literacy is considered low. This disparity does not have to exist. Therefore, I am going to take the initiative, to show the leadership we desperately need in our society.

I have previously taking on Natchez Trace, riding almost 400 miles along this Historic path from Natchez, Mississippi to Nashville, TN. During this week long bike ride, I brought attention to the health issues in the African-American community, focusing on issues of nutritional importance. I completed the Men’s Health Urbanathlon in Chicago, a grueling course, to bring attention to the plight of the often forgotten African-American man. I participated in the 2005 Disney Marathon Weekend to raise funds for stroke prevention. As a Nutrition Therapist and Competent Toastmaster, I communicate messages via a podcast; a web log; a video broadcast of the event; we will also explore historical facts and popular foods and restaurants of the areas I cover.

We are seeking sponsorship from companies who have a target market of African-Americans of varying demographics. They will hear of these historic events by visiting its website, following the blog, listening to the weekly podcast, subscribing to the e-zine, the newsletter, or local and national media. Sponsors will also be recognized on pre and post event training apparel, in follow-up activities.

Individuals are encouraged to participate by supporting the movement through the purchase of fundraising materials such as magazines subscriptions, and other related partnership activities.

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