Meet Jasmine. She works in the Donor Services Center at the Columbia, MO office. As a Family Services Coordinator, she offers donor families support and information during the eye donation process. Working with so many donor families has inspired her to take control of her health and pursue her dreams of travel. Later this spring, she’s going on a trip — a cross-country cycling trip from New York City to San Diego, to be exact. Jasmine decided to undertake the journey as “a full transformation, physically, emotionally, and spiritually,” one impressive goal of which will be 90 pounds of weight loss. “My education has been interrupted this semester due to weight gain and health issues stemming from that,” Jasmine said. “So there is no time like now to heal my body through exercise, better eating, and fulfilling my dream to cycle through the United States.”

Jasmine chose cycling because it’s her favorite kind of exercise, and she chose a cross-country trek as her goal because she’s had the opportunity to see the vast American countryside before. “When I was 17, I took a cross-country train ride from California to New York, and the scenery of America really touched my heart,” she said. Her dog will accompany her in a Cycletote trailer, and while on the road, she’ll camp, visit cities along her route, and stay with friends.

While Jasmine’s trip will certainly have long-term positive effects on her own well-being, Jasmine plans to use the journey to raise money and awareness for the causes near and dear to her heart. “As an employee for the Missouri Lions Eye Research Foundation, I have come to love the mission and philosophy of our group. Not many people know about eye donation,” Jasmine said. “And not just donation, but other programs the Foundation offers deserve to be known. I would love to be one of many people helping to spread [awareness about the importance of vision health].” Jasmine is working to raise $10,000 in donations
and will donate half of that to support Heartland Lions Eye Banks and the Foundation’s other sight-saving programs.

As a violinist, she will also be raising awareness about the importance of music education in schools by visiting schools, hospices, nursing homes, and other places. In fact, she will be bringing her violin with her in order to play street performances along the way to raise proceeds for the Foundation. About departing from her role in the Donor Services Center, she remarked “I am most definitely sad to leave the DSC, but I hope to stay connected with the organization throughout my travels and be of some service either through raising funds or spreading awareness.”

Jasmine will depart from New York on April 15. With plans to bike 50-70 miles per day along a route established by Adventure Cycling Association, she plans to reach her family in San Diego by July 15. “If I thought the country looked gorgeous from the seat of a train, I can only imagine what it’ll look like on the cycling trails,” Jasmine said. “I’ll be able to stop, take pictures, walk around and breathe in the fresh air.” The staff of Heartland Lions Eye Banks and the Missouri Lions Eye Research Foundation will be sad to see her leave, but they wish her safe travels and an amazing journey.

To learn more about Jasmine’s trip and donate to her cause, visit her fundraising website. You can also keep up with her pre-departure training schedule online, and she will be making regular updates on the progress of her travels on her Facebook page.

Update (3/21/13): Jasmine’s website is now available at There you can keep up with news from her travels, make a donation to her cause, and subscribe to her blog.