Today is Good Friday, one of the holiest days of the year for 2.2 billion Christians; It seems a fitting setting to introduce you to Joan Krenning, aka Lady Road Dog and The Freedom Ride, the personal, inspired mission she has embarked on.
What’s the connection?
Christians represent approximately 32% of the world’s population. Although substantial, this leaves 3.6 billion people with other beliefs. Not surprisingly, common ground exists at the core of major religions. At the foundation of each system is a remarkably similar code of conduct that guides behavior.
It’s a lofty, albeit conceivable dream, to envision a world united by our sameness, rather than divided by subjective differences.
Zoom in to one person in one country, intent on making a positive difference by focusing on higher principles: someone who loves her country, its history and the people in it, who loves all people, regardless of their belief system, national origin or other arbitrary divisions.
Lady Road Dog and the Freedom Ride
No stranger to challenge or adversity, Joan’s life path epitomizes courage. Released from prison in December of 1989, she was 35 years old, a convicted felon, recently widowed, newly sober, a mother of 2 young boys and facing a tremendous uphill battle getting back on her feet.
She had her strength, a motorcycle and an idea. “I’ll sew some stuff and take it to swap meets.” Such were the humble, precarious beginnings leading to her current role as CEO of Design Wraps, Inc.
Her beloved motorcycle was sold to raise cash to purchase raw materials needed to create products. Fueled by a vision, steely determination and a healthy survival instinct, the next thirty years were characterized at various times by triumph, tenacity and tragedy. The road became her home, taking her to events and people across the United States and even into Canada. Always in a car.
She missed riding. And she was becoming increasingly concerned about her country.
“I’ve always been patriotic,” affirms Joan. “Last year at Sturgis and again at Thunder Mountain Rally, I was saddened by the pre-election political disparity and partisan bickering. I was sad for me, for my country and I wanted change. God gave me an opportunity because I was open.”
Thus, the seeds for Lady Road Dog and the Freedom Ride were sewn.
She purchased a new denim black Harley-Davidson Street Glide and began planning a trip that over the next 36 months, would take her to every Harley-Davidson dealer in the US. She was on the road anyway; it was time to move to two wheels.
But the message was far greater. She would wrap the bike in the graphics of the Constitution, using it as a focus of conversation wherever she went.
Her intent is to focus Americans on the higher values upon which the country was founded and end the polarization that threatens its fabric. “We are so selfish, so self-centered and we’re worried, believing the worst. All it takes is changing hearts.”
She’s quick to point out that this movement isn’t about her. “The only reason that I’ve been chosen is because I was willing to do this. We all have a major role to play. God is working through me and I haven’t said, ‘No.’”
She also recognizes the role of her motorcycle in enabling this movement. “If I was in a Ford Focus wrapped in the graphics of the Constitution, no one would care. Or do you think it would be such a big story if I was on a crotch rocket?“ But people are receptive to a 58-year-old woman, clad in black leather, wandering alone around the countryside on a Harley-Davidson, on a mission of hope and change.
The need for change is not exclusionary to Americans. This is a story that is resonating in many people’s hearts and can’t be contained by borders. “Be proud of who you are, focus on the country you’re in and its higher values,” advises Joan. “We can each make a difference right from where God has put us.”
“When I talk to people about the Bill of Rights, I’m talking to them about the fact that regardless of how you believe, I will love and respect you anyway. You all have the right to how you think and believe. No one else has the right to tell you different. We’re meant to love each other regardless of our beliefs.”
On this day celebrated as Holy by much of the world, and just plain Friday to most of it, let’s put aside our differences and focus on our common ground and highest values.
As denizens of this universe, we share a common spirit. If we each do our own small part, the possibilities are endless!
I first crossed paths with Joan Krenning in 2010 at the Motorcyclists Confederation of Canada’s International Women’s Festival and Congress. We finally met in person in 2012 in Carson City, NV at AMA’s International Women and Motorcycling Conference, just prior to the conception of the Freedom Ride. Since then, I’ve been honored to spend time with her at the Ottawa International Motorcycle Show and most recently in Daytona Beach during Bike Week.
I’ve been touched by her story and inspired by her courage. I’m sure you will be too. I’ll be keeping you advised of Joan’s progress through monthly blogs. As you can imagine though, dramatic new developments unfold every day. You can stay in touch through her Lady Road Dog website or by following her on Facebook. Twitter or Pinterest. If possible, acknowledge your support by meeting her at one of the many events she’ll be attending as part of the Freedom Ride.