I’ve been thinking about the “good ol’ days” lately. Days when young people were encouraged, nay even expected to tackle difficult and independent tasks. Days when parents made decisions for their children and no other entity would think of interfering. Days when someone gave their word, they kept it.
So, what has me pining for these days gone by? It’s the story of Davy and Daryl Vogel, thirteen year old boys from Boise, Idaho who decided at the age of ten to break the Guinness World Record for the youngest people to ever bike the Pan-American Highway. This highway begins in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska and extends all the way down the coast of two continents to the tip Argentina 17,300 miles.
At the start of the trip, the Vogels contacted Guinness World Records to be sure they understood the guidelines of the record. Throughout the trip, the Vogels maintained contact with GWR to ensure that they were following the guidelines to the letter. Often this meant adding long miles to their journey, or rerouting to ride instead of taking a ferry. When the Vogels returned from their trip and filed the paperwork to complete the record, they were informed that the category no longer existed and they would not be receiving the record or any formal recognition.
Let’s completely ignore the obvious magnanimity of this accomplishment. Forget, for a moment, that these two boys put more miles on their bike than I put on my car. Or that my own kids would only make it 5 miles before the whining started. (In all honesty, I wouldn’t make it much further than that before I started a whine fest of my own.)
What really makes Daryl and Davy deserving to receive the recognition for their accomplishment is that they dared to rail against societal norms. In a world where kids compete in apathy like an Olympic sport, the Vogels had the gumption to get up and go far. While other kids their age were engrossed in unending marathons of video games, not bothering to stop long enough to string together a coherent sentence, these two young men steeled themselves for another day of riding dirt paths and sleeping in the wilderness.
Davy and Daryl both agree that the journey was its own reward and that the recognition would just be the cherry on the sundae. The life lessons they learned in those two and ½ years of travel can never be quantified. But Davy and Daryl haven’t stopped learning just because they sleep in the same place and use an easier form of transportation. They are still young people who are forming their opinion of the world. For me, I refuse to let them learn that the world is full of corporations who will not honor their commitments. I refuse to let them learn that hard work and determination will be met with the cold shoulder. I rail against a society that wants to limit the potential of young people with the disease of low expectations.
I realize it may be idealistic to fight for a world where these things exist. But I believe in idealism. After all, it was idealism that put a man on the moon. It was idealism that produced the Sistine Chapel. And it was idealism that propelled two young boys to travel 17,300 miles from one tip of the continent to the other. That kind of idealism is worth fighting for.
How Can You Help (from the Vogels Website)
2. Blog about it – anybody who has a blog or knows anybody who has a blog, please do a quick write-up about this issue and it’s unfairness. I think we should be grandfathered in and then they should close the category. We understand the record the boys broke no longer exists; we would be happy with some sort of official recognition from Guinness – maybe a certificate stating that they met all the requirements as laid out in the guidelines they gave us? I would be happy to talk with bloggers, but most likely will not consent to interviews with the boys.
3. Social media is powerful. They have a facebook page (search Guinness World Records) and their Twitter account is @GWRnews Flood them with messages about this.
4. Contact the press – if you have a good, trustworthy source. This is one of those stories that could easily go haywire and I don’t want it twisted every which way. If you know someone in radio/TV/newspaper/magazine media, please contact them. But – don’t just throw it out there for all the kooks to pick up.
You can read more about the Vogel’s travels and follow the boys’ story at Family on Bikes.
~All photo credits courtesy of Family on Bikes.