From the NPCFF newsletter:
Joanne and Alexander Hunold have been vagabonds for much of their lives, and they’ve seen a lot of the world. Alexander was born in Zurich and grew up in a mountain town in Switzerland. He came to live in the US in 1999, after making several lengthy trips to the southwest, touring on everything from a tandem bike to an RV. He worked as a database administrator in Silicon Valley, while continuing to travel and explore. He has seen all the world’s deserts, except for the Gobi and the Kalahari!
Joanne was born to a military family in England that moved every two years and ultimately settled in Maryland. Joann moved to California, and met Alexander there in 1999 when he came with a friend to a women’s triathlon that Joanne was competing in. Their first date was a tandem bike ride. Joanne loved it; they were married a year later! In 2004, they tired of living in the Silicon Valley and moved to Glendale, Arizona. Joanne spent most of her career as a biostatistician in the pharmaceutical area but later in life, went back to school to become a registered nurse.
In his travels around the southwest, Alexander remembers a strong desire to see Monument Valley, because when he was growing up, that was the American West where the Marlboro Man came from. He and Joanne learned about the NPC Friends & Family Pedal the Petrified bike tour through another bike ride, and first rode the event in 2016. In addition to riding, they’ve been fund raisers for the ride and donors on Arizona Gives Day, yet they reside far from the NPC service area, and neither knows an NPC student personally. In fact, before Pedal the Petrified, they knew nothing at all of Northland Pioneer College. But now they understand just what their support truly means to NPC students.
As Alexander put it, “NPC Friends and Family is close to our hearts, because people think they know Arizona, but what they really know is two large urban clusters. The Petrified Forest bike ride connects people of completely different walks of life. It has always hurt me to see the income disparity between the Native ethnicity and the urban populations. That NPC Friends & Family enables people from the Phoenix area to spend time with you and learn about and support the communities in your area is special. It creates an emotional bond. It’s only through the Petrified Forest ride, and my old European habit of picking up hitchhikers, that I know anything about the social and economic context of the region.”
Joanne and Alexander continue to support the inspirational students they’ve learned about through Pedal the Petrified. They understand how vital their support is and want to help Northland Pioneer College continue to provide educational services to students who need it most. Alexander says, “Pedal is a fun ride and I look forward to it every year. I have never encountered such a friendly, personable, reliable set of people. We have ridden on many rides, but to receive an email thanking people for their participation is tremendously important. It lifts this event up above others to something that we want to continue to support. I encourage all those who read this to find ways to support NPC Friends & Family. It truly makes a difference.”