What lengths do you go to in support of blading? How many miles would you skate if you knew it could make you feel a whole lot better? Find out with Operation Ohio on July 15–18 as a group blades 100+ miles from Columbus to Cincinnati, Ohio. Spearheaded by GetRollin.org, we spoke to the group’s organizers Metha Balasquides and Selena about this chance to stretch out along the Ohio to Erie Trail for a real soul skate through the heart of a state that calls itself “the heart of it all.” Here’s what Metha had to say…
* * * *
Metha, thanks for taking time from your important work to tell us about your upcoming event. As an Ohio transplant that spent 20 years in San Diego before coming back to the midwest, I’ll be the first to admit that most people don’t think of Ohio when it comes to planning a blade event, so where did the idea for the program come from?
Honestly, the first time we even talked about the event it was because Cameron Card, Jimmy Hake, Selena, and I thought it would be a great challenge; but we ended up having an incredibly nurturing experience. So much so that the Get Rollin team embraced it as our mental health awareness program in collaboration with NAMI Southwest Ohio. The 1st experience, even if it wasn’t intended to, it brought so much self healing to all of us that we had to pay it forward.
What’s the route like? Do you need to be an advanced skater to be to undertake the adventure?
For Selena and I, it was our first long distance skate and that’s how Cam and Jimmy made us interested in the route. I would say the route is extremely friendly. But the endurance part is a different layer of it. Training a few miles regularly would be a good way to get ready.
So you skate all day and camp all night? How does that all work?
We wake up, allowing time for everyone’s morning routine, stretch, and then start skating. On the way we stop for refreshments, swimming, lunch, take breaks — including a long break at one point. We aim to arrive to the camp site by afternoon, prep it, get cooking, playing games, practicing a community circle conversation, or simply relax and receive the night. The sites and some middle points on the route have showers; but there’s a few swimming spots that are great, too!
Can someone just pop in for a day or two if that’s what their schedule allows?
Yes, for sure! For a portion of the trail, a day, a few days, or the whole route, everyone is welcomed to join as they are able to. OperationOhio.com has all the stops listed. Anyone can message our IG page if they want to coordinate meeting up in a specific point. We encourage anyone to try!
What’s the larger picture for Operation Ohio and future plans? Is this something you have done in other locations, or what to do other places?
We’d love for OO to be run by a local roller group so that it can benefit the community in the area first and allow us to try the same in a different location with a new group. Our current aim is to make it sustainable; which we have achieved. The next step is passing it along to any group interested and supporting them in any way possible until it allows them self-sustainability.
How does mental health factor into the mission for this event and GetRolling.org? What can you tell us about that?
Our mission is to promote wellness in the community, through networking, connecting to resources, helping organizers and/or creators, even through yoga, meditation, slack line, hydration stations, or healthy good food at events. But wellness can’t exist without mental health. The better our relationship with it, the more we enjoy skating.
That’s so great that you and your team are putting time into helping people improve themselves. Well done!
Is there anything else to tell us about the upcoming skate before we let you get back to your routine?
Thanks man. Just that we’d love for them to join and bring their own spice to it. And that mental health doesn’t have to be a taboo in our community.
Well thanks, Metha! We’re going to try to join you along the way!
That’s great brother. We look forward to the journey together. Thank you for all you do for our community man. May your blessings multiply!