Mark Blackham pushed off from his home in Union Township on his motorcycle July 3 for a journey that will take him to Alaska and back.
Blackham is riding across the country to Alaska while supporting SonLight Power, an organization that he works with that assists children and families in the world by providing sustainable solar power as well as fellowship.
“I am going to where the sun never sets,” Blackham said. “I thought, let’s bottle that in the form of solar equipment and take that to people who need the light in more ways than one.”
Blackham left Union Township July 3 and arrived in Fairbanks, Alaska July 10. He has ridden more than 5,000 miles, and he said along the way he has been able to share information about the charity he is supporting.
“I get to tell the the story about what SonLight Power does,” he said. “It is getting the word out.”
Blackham said he is hoping to get enough support through the ride to be able to install solar power equipment into a school that does not currently have light.
“I am planning on buying solar equipment to take to Mexico next summer,” Blackham said.
Blackham said he decided he wanted to support the organization while he was planning for the trip. He said he realized that he wanted to do something more than just ride to Alaska and back.
Blackham said he is averaging 500 to 600 miles each day on the ride.
“This part of the world is so amazing,” Blackham said on his rest day July 10. “It is so vast, it is so beautiful it is hard to describe.”
Blackham said in addition to the scenery he has seen a variety of wildlife including mountain sheep, moose, caribou and bears.
Now that he is in Alaska, Blackham said he is going to travel from Fairbanks on the Dalton Highway to Prudhoe Bay, where he can witness the midnight sun.
“In order to get to the sea there, you can’t drive by yourself because of the oil pipeline,” Blackham said. “There is a tour with the hotel, I will probably do something like that.”
Blackham said from there, he will travel into British Columbia, down to Yellow Stone National Park through Wyoming an back home.
He said he will visit family along the way home, and expects to be back home July 27 or July 28.
Blackham said the most impressive thing about the trip so far is the people he has been able to meet.
“What impresses me is when you tell people the story of what you’re doing it gives you hope that in society, the random people you are meeting are good people,” Blackham said.
Blackham said he is hoping to plan another ride to take the solar equipment to Mexico when he has raised enough funds for the equipment.
SonLight Power has installed more than 100 solar power systems at community center, schools and other buildings in Kenya, Honduras, and Mexico.
For more information about Blackham’s ride visit www.blackham.org. For more information about SonLight Power visit www.sonlightpower.org.