“When the night has come, And the land is dark
And the moon is the only light we’ll see
No I won’t be afraid, no I won’t be afraid
Just as long as you stand, stand by me”
-Ben E. King
On September 20, former NBA player Ivano Newbill set out from the steps of Capital Hall in Atlanta, Georgia alone on a bike. In just 12 days he would cycle over 700 miles to Washington D.C. in time to attend the 2nd annual summit on Global Hunger. He rode to raise awareness about the billions of people who face hunger around the world each year. He rode to raise money for the Global Hunger Fund. He rode, as a volunteer, to take action against a crisis that kills over 25,000 people each day, and to fight against an issue that creates conflict in developing countries. He rode with the hope that more children will have the chance to receive healthy meals at school — just as he had. “Growing up, many days the only meals myself and siblings had were provided through the school system. Without these meals I do not believe I would have excelled to graduate from high school, as well as go on to Georgia Tech and graduate. I know most definitely the NBA would not have been a part of my future. Now I have a moral obligation to try and help end the world’s deadliest disease: hunger.”
During his journey through the back streets and on the highways, Ivano encountered stares and rebel flags, the symbols used to generate fear and hate in the South. With his past in his heart and Playing For Change “Stand By Me” on his MP3 player, Ivano valiantly faced the negativity and, in turn, left a positive impact on the locals who learned about his cause. With each additional extended hand and offer to contribute, change had taken place — change prompted by Ivano’s courage, endurance, and faith.
We got the chance to speak to Ivano about his ride and his cause. He told us tragic stories about world hunger, but included inspirational insights into how we can lend a helping hand. He told us how global hunger is the biggest killer in the world, taking the lives of over nine million people each year. He explained to us how food deprivation is used as a weapon, and how warlords keep people down by keeping them hungry. He described to us how “hunger does not discriminate.” It affects men, women, and children, no matter your race or religion. He instructed us to view ourselves as united through our humanity, to see this issue as one that affects our own. He warned that “a whole generation of our children could be lost. Proper nutrition is vital for any child to excel in school. Serving food at school not only helps alleviate hunger among the world’s poorest children, it also helps get them into school providing them with an important key to a better future — an education.” Despite these dismal realities there is hope; hunger is after all a curable disease. This is why as the volunteer co-chair of Friends of The World Food Program Committee of Atlanta, Georgia, Ivano has dedicated his time, his energy, his thoughts, and his prayers to raising awareness and contributing to the United Nations World Food Program (WFP).
Ivano wrote to us to let us know, “When I hear ‘Stand By Me’, I think that whatever the problem is, there is a solution to it.” With the faith to make the world a better place Ivano has triumphantly embraced that he IS the solution and we are honored that Ivano took us along on his journey. Ivano, we stand by you as you stand by those who go hungry each day. We are inspired by your determination and energized by your enthusiasm.
Change can be made now. Change can be made today. It can be as simple as a smile to a stranger or as meaningful as lending a helping hand in the global hunger crisis. Ivano wrote to us saying “I know change will come along; it really will” We share his faith in all of you and in ourselves. We can all make change if we are brave enough to take action. Ivano took action and that is why we are sharing his story with you. We hope you will continue to share your inspiring stories with us. Thank you for helping us change the world!