WEST COLUMBIAN Scott Harman should have an interesting tale to tell his friends about what he did over summer vacation.
On Monday, Harman joined more than 200 bicyclists in Seattle for the third American Lung Association's Radio Shack Big Ride - traveling by bicycle more than 3,250 miles and across 12 states in 48 days to raise money and awareness for the fight against lung disease.
"I've always dreamed of venturing across America by bike," Harman said. "Knowing that every breath I take along the way will help those individuals who struggle with their own makes my trip even more meaningful."
Harman has personal reasons to join the fight against lung disease - America's third-leading cause of death. His mother-in-law has lung cancer and his daughter, Katie, 16, has asthma. Katie, who will be a junior at Atholton High School next year, said: "I'm really glad he's doing this. He's been talking about it for years. I'm very proud of him."
Harman is going the extra mile on this trip, literally. Although the official ride began in Seattle, he said, "I wanted to bike ocean to ocean." Because Seattle is inland from the Pacific Ocean, he decided to begin his ride in the coastal town of Ocean City, Wash.
Cyclists ride an average of 81 miles a day. They take turns carrying a "Chain of Hope" made of hospital bracelets containing the names of people with lung disease. The trip ends Aug. 5 in Washington.
The adventure offers cyclists an opportunity to see a lot of the country, including the Rocky Mountains, Mount Rushmore, the Badlands and the Appalachians. At night, they camp in tents each rider erects in a travel city that includes hot showers and medical support.
Harman, an attorney, lives in the Clemens Crossing neighborhood with his wife, Nancy, his daughter, Katie, and a son, Matthew, 13.
Although viewing the trip as a tremendous physical challenge, Harman said, "I'm looking forward to getting away from the daily grind. The only goal I'll have each day is getting up, getting on the bike and enjoying life. It's back to basics."
Young leaders conference
Kevin Steenberge, 16, has been selected to participate in the National Young Leaders Conference next month in Washington.
The 11-day conference is a leadership development program for high school students demonstrating leadership potential and scholastic merit.
Kevin, who will be a junior at River Hill High School in the fall, will be among 350 students from across the country attending the conference from July 31 to Aug. 10. Participants will have the opportunity to interact with leaders from the government, the diplomatic corps and the media.
Kevin will meet with senators and representatives from Maryland to discuss issues facing Columbia and the nation. "I'd like to discuss what they're doing to take steps to curb school violence," he said.
Kevin was recommended for the program by River Hill geometry teacher Kevin Giffhorn.
He lives in River Hill with his parents, Mike and Colleen Steenberge, and five siblings.
Last fall, he participated in a statewide student summit on safe schools during which he received an award from Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend for school-based individual leadership.
As vice president of the sophomore class, Kevin was instrumental in organizing students to sign the "I Will Pledge." The pledge is part of a national program in which students promise to be tolerant of others and their differences, be respectful toward others and never use violence to resolve conflicts. More than 1,000 students at River Hill signed.
"I know that school violence has recently been up," he said, '"but in Howard County we have police officers assigned to schools. A lot of students don't like that. They figure that's just another authority figure to hold them back."
But, Kevin sees an officer in the school as a good idea. "It's kind of nice to have them there, I think," he said. "It's a reassurance."
Kevin said he is looking forward to hearing the conference speakers. "In the past, Janet Reno, Jesse Jackson and Newt Gingrich have been speakers, but I don't know who they have scheduled for this year," he said.
He said he is especially enthusiastic about the "If I Were President" activity in which students role-play the president and Cabinet members responding to an international crisis. "I really hope it will help me next year in making decisions for our school and for my future goals," he said.
Kevin has been elected president of the executive board of the River Hill Student Government Association for next school year.
As for his plans beyond high school, he would like to attend Duke University in Durham, N.C., and eventually play professional basketball. Kevin is a 6-foot, 10-inch center for River Hill. The team made it to the regional semifinals this year.
Kevin said he is most proud of his varsity letter in basketball. "Everyone in my family has played basketball, but I kind of reached it [the varsity letter] at the youngest age," he said.