By Kelsey Ryan
For more than 10 years, Todd Greene made his home in New York City.
Now Greene, Joplin Expats president and co-founder, and his cycling partner, Dave duCille, plan to ride more than 1,500 miles in 20 days to help raise money to provide storm shelters for Joplin families. They will leave from New York City’s Central Park on Sunday and end their journey at Cunningham Park in Joplin.
“Cycling is so fun to me,” Greene said. “It’s an amazing way to explore. If you’re walking, you can’t cover as much ground. If you’re driving, it’s too fast to soak in surroundings.”
Their Cycle for Joplin campaign is one of many fundraisers the Joplin Expats have held since the May 22 tornado.
The group, which is composed of hundreds of former Joplinites who now live around the United States as well as overseas, works to raise funds and awareness for Joplin’s recovery.
“We may not live in Joplin, but it lives within us” is one of the slogans on the group’s website, joplinexpats.org.
Expats in New York City held a fundraiser last year for Joplin schools. The Washington, D.C., chapter held a raffle and silent auction for the Boys & Girls Club in Joplin. It was attended by U.S. Rep. Billy Long, R-Mo. The Chicago Expats had a fundraising mixer last fall.
Andrea Hicklin, a Joplin Expats co-founder who lives in Washington, D.C., and works as a physical therapist, said she and Greene started talking about forming the group within a day after the storm.
Hicklin said that at the end of last summer, the group had raised more than $25,000 from cities across the country to help charities with rebuilding. Long-term goals have shifted to supporting local students through an alumni network for career mentoring in addition to aiding the economic recovery.
“We all just wanted to be able to do something,” Hicklin said. “We couldn’t be there and we couldn’t help someone directly at the time, so we felt the best thing was to aggregate our resources. ... It has been a journey that has brought me back to old friends, acquaintances from when I lived there, and it has renewed an interest in Joplin.”
Originally, Greene was going to cycle to Joplin for his move back to the area, but that became a logistical nightmare, he said. He and duCille came up with the idea to do the trip around the first anniversary of the storm. He said members of Joplin Expats all have different reasons for leaving the community, but they still think about their hometown.
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