Hanna Elshoff Chatfield Lions Club, Minnesota Growing up in a small German village, Hanna Elshoff dreamed of coming to America. Now, the 72-year-old grandmother is living her dream of riding a bike around the United States, including a stop to fulfill yet another dream—meeting a former U.S. president (and Lion) who inspired her to become a citizen. A Free Spirit I always felt that I needed more elbow room than my small community in Germany allowed. I arrived here speaking no English at 18. I rode my bike everywhere, and I wanted to ride through the U.S. But I knew I had to be footloose and fancy-free before I could do it. Living Courageously I had a stroke six years ago while giving a speech at a Toastmasters competition. I remember thinking I was going to die, and I was at peace with it. Ten days later I walked out of the hospital. I thought, I wasn’t kept alive for nothing. I became determined to go on this ride fearlessly. Pedaling with Gratitude Along with raising funds for Leader Dogs, meeting Lions and sharing my passion for Toastmasters, my mission on this ride is to thank veterans. My family found out after World War II that a neighbor was SS and had orders to send us away because we were members of the Free Lutheran Church. If the Americans hadn’t come… they saved our lives. Journey to Georgia Years ago, I saw a guy on TV saying he was a farmer and was running for president. My family were farmers and I thought, only in America could a farmer run for president. I became a citizen so I could vote for him. I didn’t quite make it, but President Jimmy Carter has always held a special place in my heart. I have my letter welcoming me as a citizen—signed by President Gerald Ford—with me. I’m heading to Plains, Georgia, to try to get Carter to add his signature. No Regrets I was told my dream of this ride was quixotic. Thankfully I received the extra push I needed at the international convention in Hamburg, when International President Barry Palmer announced his theme, “Follow Your Dream.” I’m riding with a purpose, meeting beautiful people everywhere and touching lives with my story. Every day I say, it can’t get any better. Follow Elshoff’s ride, invite her to visit your club and find out if she fulfills her dream of getting Carter’s autograph at “Hanna's Dream Ride" on Facebook. Was a nanny for 16 years Owns a farm in Minnesota Rides the solar- and pedal-hybrid “ELF” bike Digital LION Watch a video about Elshoff’s ride at lionmagazine.org. Do you know a Lion who you think has a great story or deserves a bit of recognition? Email us a brief description of the Lion and the reason you’re making the nomination to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include “One of Us” in the subject line.
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