I learned early in life that parents don't always get along, furniture can be repossessed, it's possible to go to bed hungry, and roofs are not always over your head. I can remember very well when I was five years old being in a grocery store and seeing a Three Musketeers candy bar that I wanted so bad I could taste it. My mother did not have the extra nickel to spare. I knew at that moment and with my five years experience of being in this challenging world that if I wanted something I had to rely on myself.
In 1954 I sold newspapers on the corner of Hamilton and Maple in St. Louis after school. Yelling Post and Globe Papers still rings in my ear. I made one penny for every paper I sold. I usually sold about forty papers in an afternoon. I now had my own spending money.
We moved to South Shore, Missouri and things improved financially. I found a job at the South Shore Marina as a cleanup boy and go-fer. Living on the Mississippi River put the idea that someday I just might be a Captain.
In 1959 we moved to Southern California because of my dad's machinist's career. I was devastated, I did not want to leave South Shore, Mo. Sometime in 1960 I told my parents "one of these days I'm going back to live in South Shore and I will take my 10 speed to get there". School, the Service, and marriage took priority for the next few years. My desire to bicycle to Missouri was put on the back burner.
With a supportive wife and my desire to bicycle across country, it's time to "21 Speed" to the Missouri that's been tugging at my heart strings. It was suggested to me that I do this for charity. I have chosen to support charities that feed or help the unfortunate. Wanting for things can be a driving force. Working hard to get those things can build character.
This May, I will leave Southern California in the first part of my trek to Missouri – Captain Bill's Ride for Childhood Hunger. My goal is to use this ride to raise critical funds for local programs addressing the issue of childhood hunger – something that I understand all too well. And that is why I have partnered with Inland Empire United Way and Inland Valley Hope Partners, two agencies feeding underprivileged children every week. I hope you will help me make sure that other kids don't have to experience the feeling of hunger in a way that I did back in Missouri as a child. If you are so willing, please take a look at my website and consider making a donation toward the cause. It will mean a lot to me...and even more to local hungry kids. Whether you can contribute $10 or $10,000, every dollar counts!
Wish me well, Capt. Bill Catlett USMM (Master)
For more information on Captain Bill's Bike Ride Against Childhood Hunger or to make a donation to support his cause, please visit: www.bicycling4hungeron66.com.