John Schilder attended Big Walnut schools through eighth grade before transferring to Columbus St. Charles Preparatory School in Bexley, but he carried the Big Walnut community’s philosophy with him when he moved on — where you see a need, roll up your sleeves and do something about it.
On June 29 Schilder got on his bike named Hope (after world famous soccer star, Hope Solo) for a 3,000 mile, cross-country bike ride from Columbus to San Francisco to raise money for the St. Luke Foundation for Haiti.
Schilder wrote in a mid-journey email last week (while 100 miles east of Pueblo, Colorado) that by the end of this year) he hopes to raise at least $50,000 for St. Luke’s Haiti mission.
“In light of the recent reports released about wasted NGO funds and the delays in rebuilding Haiti after the devastating earthquake in 2010, the St. Luke Foundation stands apart with its long-ties to Port-au-Prince and organization structure, which is maintained entirely by Haitian-leaders,” Schilder said. “The St. Luke Foundation for Haiti provides education, medical care and dignified humanitarian outreach in places that have been underserved by traditional providers.”
Big Walnut area folks may remember Schilder playing soccer with the Big Walnut Soccer Association, and as a Sunbury Halter & Saddle 4-H Club member showing goats at the Hartford and Delaware County fairs. After graduating from St. Charles Schilder attended Ohio Dominican University where he studied Political Science and Spanish and was a member of the men’s soccer team.
“My senior year I interned in Washington D.C. for the late Stephanie Tubb-Jones out of Cleveland, and took a class in Peace Studies and Non-Violence,” Schilder said. “The intern experience and the class motivated me to make a change in others’ lives so I joined the United States Peace Corps. As a Municipal Development Specialist I spent two years in rural Honduras assisting with civic education, agricultural and youth development projects.”
Schilder said while he was in Honduras members of the Sunbury/Galena Rotary Club got involved, helping fund a co-ed youth baseball team that made the national tournament.
After Honduras Schilder accepted a graduate fellowship at Marquette University in Milwaukee, where he worked as the founding College Transition Coordinator at a charter high school; while at Marquette Schilder also earned a degree in Dispute Resolution and Non-Profit Management.
Schilder’s parents have lived in Sunbury for the past 50 years. His father Joe Schilder still practices law out of his office on the square; his mother Rosemary has always been very active in the community as a volunteer.
“I’ve spent short stints at home in between new adventures,” Schilder said. “Late last year I moved back to Sunbury a bit before I started working for a development-educational organization in Panama, and most recently before I started out on this journey.”
Schilder said he’s paying for the cross-country bike with his own funds; that 100 percent of donations will go directly to the people of Haiti.
“The most important message is that this is a journey to raise awareness about the severity of unmet basic human needs in Haiti and to raise funds for the St Luke Foundation,” Schilder said. “Also, to ask others to share information about biking for Haiti with friends, family, co-workers, and church communities, and to donate if at all possible. In Haiti, $50 can save a life.”
To view Schilder’s blog go to < bikingforhaiti.com >. There’s a link of the blog for making donations, and a link to the St. Luke Foundation for Haiti.
Reporter Lenny C. Lepola can be reached at 614-266-6093.