On September 18, 2021, I am setting out to roll across Massachusetts in my electric wheelchair with my labradoodle Mocha to raise money and awareness to fight hunger. We will be rolling/strolling from the New York border in West Stockbridge all the way to the Atlantic Ocean in Provincetown!
Hunger has perpetually been a silent crisis: kids going to school hungry; homeless families searching for a shelter and a meal; elderly people, alone, depending on others for groceries; children around the world malnourished due to natural disasters, climate change, conflicts, and poverty. These problems and more have been magnified by the pandemic and by climate change.
Today, 1 in 8 children in Massachusetts is experiencing food insecurity. Due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, more than 42 million people in the United States are food insecure, including as many as 13 million children. The need to combat hunger is equally urgent abroad. About 690 million people worldwide go to bed hungry each night. Despite these alarming numbers, this issue is not receiving the attention and media coverage it deserves.
Why organize a Roll/Stroll?
At the end of 2017, I developed a rare neurological disorder, called Rhombo Myleoneuropathy. It has affected my mobility in myriad ways, including making walking difficult and painful and reducing my ability to use my hands. After years of doctors’ visits and treatments, it is clear that nothing is going to stop this disease. Weekly antibody treatments are slowing its progress and help keep my symptoms under control.
I use an electric wheelchair when taking trips out of the house. As an outdoor enthusiast, I often roll/stroll with my labradoodle Mocha and my wife Susan around our hometown of Stow, Massachusetts. We have been warmly received with waves, smiles, greetings, and for one of us, friendly pats on the head and rubs behind the ears.
I have spent my life fighting for the environment, justice and a better world. In university, I worked with Greenpeace to end commercial sealing. Upon graduating, I successfully advocated for getting Canada to change its vote on the commercial whaling moratorium, then became the first Executive Director of Greenpeace USA, creating national campaigns. I later became an environmental lawyer, helping neighborhoods fight toxic waste polluters and working to clean up hazardous waste sites. Recently, I have focused on battling the world’s #1 existential threat, climate change. I worked on an international climate change treaty, helping to secure the phase-down of harmful refrigerant gases, the elimination of which will prevent up to a 1°C (1.8°F) rise in global temperature by 2100. I continue to take actions to work on climate change, including to stop deforestation around the world.
I am not someone who takes on challenges sitting down. Well, this time, maybe I am going to have to sit, but I am certainly not going to sit still. I hope you will join me in my next big challenge – to help fight hunger in Massachusetts, the U.S., and across the world.
In recognition of the reality that my disease continues to progress and I won’t be rolling around forever, I’ve decided that now is the time to use the good will Mocha and I experience every day when we roll/stroll – to raise money and awareness to combat hunger and improve the lives of children.
During our Roll/Stroll, we will stop at and highlight food banks, food kitchens, shelters, houses of worship, community supported agriculture farms (CSAs), and other places working to alleviate hunger.
What will the Roll/Stroll for hunger look like?
- We’ll track the Roll/Stroll on a map and through daily Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram posts.
- We’ll have community discussions about hunger on Facebook Live.
- We’ll interview hunger activists in the communities we pass through.
- We’ll learn about the different ways to give kids a better start in life.
- We’ll share what we learn about the causes and impacts of hunger.
Fundraising for the Roll/Stroll?
The target organizations for 4Paws 4Wheels 4Hunger’s fundraising efforts are Save the Children and these great Massachusetts food banks: The Greater Boston Food Bank, The Merrimack Valley Food Bank, Worcester County Food Bank (WCFB), and the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts. These terrific organizations work to address immediate food insecurity and to prioritize sustainable solutions to end hunger and improve the lives of children.
How can you help?
Mocha and I need your help to combat hunger! Spread the word. Donate. See our Ways to Help page for other ways that you can support Mark & Mocha. Donate to your local hunger organizations! Become a hunger activist. Take any other action that you can think of to raise awareness and money to combat hunger. Together we can and will make a difference!
We can’t wait to hear from you! Once we get going, we hope you will post your photos and videos on social media at #4hunger to get the word out and GET THE DONATIONS ROLLING IN!