Texas teacher completes Japanese
bike tour for charity
Monitor Staff Reports
SHIKOKU ISLAND, Japan–The granddaughter of long-time Cedar Creek Lake
area residents Billy and Dortha Arnold recently completed a bicycling
trip completely around Shikoku Island, visiting 88 Buddhist temples
during Golden Week.
A former Gun Barrel City resident, Ashley DeAnn Hamilton now teaches in
Billy and Dortha Arnold lived where the Arnold Hills subdivision is now
located between Seven Points and Tool, and their daughters, Dell
Hamilton (Ashley’s mom) and Debra Gunderson, continue to live in the
Ashley Hamilton and neighbor Neil, a Boston-area engineer, had the idea
to complete the 1,647-kilometer (988.2 miles) tour around the island,
located off the southeast coast of Japan, to raise money for charity.
According to her blog, neither Hamilton nor Neil are Buddhist, and chose
to make the ride to benefit the Alzheimer’s Society (Hamilton), and the
Lymphoma Society (Neil).
“This journey was incredibly challenging,” Hamilton wrote in an e-mail
to The Monitor.
“We covered 1,400 kilometers in less than nine days, and visited 88
temples,” she wrote. “We slept in tents in parks, on the grounds of
temples, and in high school baseball fields – only to be awakened at
5:30 a.m. by the team leaving for an away game! Needless to say, they
had confused looks on their faces.”
In her blog, Hamilton said Neil was raising money for the Lymphoma
Society because he had Hodgkin’s Disease a couple of years ago.
“I will be raising money for the Alzheimer’s Society to honor my
maternal grandparents’ memories, who had the disease and passed away in
the last couple of months,” she wrote.
The journey around the island was first made by Kobo Dashi, also known
as Kukai (774-835 A.D.), an infamous figure in Japanese history, who
roamed the island in search of spiritual truth and enlightenment while
visiting the 88 temples.
Dashi is considered the founder of the Shingon sect of Buddhism, and is
also credited with introducing Chinese medicines, tea and architectural
knowledge to Japan, Hamilton wrote in her blog.
Nowadays, thousands of Shingon followers make the same pilgrimage,
visiting the 88 temples, by foot (which usually takes a couple of months
or longer) or by other means.
The number 88 represents the number of evil passions, as defined by
Buddhist doctrine, and it is believed that one aspect of evil can be
removed with a visit to each temple, Hamilton explained.
“So, after this grueling 10-day bike ride, we will either have a pure
soul, an enlightened mind, or a missing belly,” she wrote.
The pair began their trek April 28 and finished May 7, completing the
journey in less than nine days, averaging 156 kilometers (100 miles) in
eight hours of riding per day.
During the eight-day journey, Hamilton kept a running account in her
blog, 88temples.blogspot.com, and also commented at,
“We climbed 1,000-meter mountain ranges, coasted along the white beaches
and sloshed through the pouring rain,” she wrote The Monitor.
“The journey was arduous, grueling and one of the most fantastic
experiences of my life,” she added. “I don’t know if I’ve ever been
prouder of myself for finishing, raising money for the Alzheimer’s
Society, and now being able to share a little slice of Japan with
Shafer inducted into honor society
Special to The Monitor
MABANK–Donald L. Shafer of Mabank was one of 43 students inducted into
The University of Texas at Tyler Beta Gamma Sigma chapter.
It is a business honor society in the College of Business and
Dr. Marlyn Young, professor of management and president of BGS performed
One of the 15 campuses of the UT System, UT Tyler offers excellence in
teaching, research, artistic performance and community service.
Mabank High School seniors
awarded for achievement
Special to The Monitor
MABANK–The “High Schools That Work” award of educational achievement has
been presented to 14 students in the Mabank High School class of 2006.
Recipients receive personalized certificates and congratulatory letters
from the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB).
The recipients are Nancy Barker, Devin Carter, Beau Champagne, Sarah
Duckett, Cassandra Estrada, Sadie Guiter, Sasha Lamadrid, Christopher
Perdue, Jeremy Prescott, Danielle Price, James Threadgill, Kristin
Tucker and Forrest Welling.
The award is presented to high school seniors who demonstrate readiness
for employment and college studies.
The awards were presented to the recipients at the annual Seniors Award
and Recognition Banquet held May 8 in the Mabank Middle School gym.
“We are very proud of these young people,” Mabank High School Principal
Tommy Wallis said.
“They have demonstrated that taking challenging courses in high school
and scoring high on rigorous exams can lead to individual recognition
and increased likelihood of success in the workplace and further
education,” he added.
To qualify for the award, students must complete a college-preparatory
course of study in at least two of three subject areas. They are
English, mathematics and/or science, complete a concentration in a
career/technical area, mathematics/science or the humanities and meet
performance goals in all three subjects areas on the “High Schools That
Students can grant SREB permission to share their names and addresses
with the school’s local business and industry partners who may be
interested in hiring them and with admissions officers who may waive
postsecondary placement exams.
The goal of the program is that local businesses or employers will give
priority in hiring to recent high school graduates who earned the Award
of Educational Achievement.
Some community colleges or other postsecondary institutions may waive
placement exams for Award of Educational Achievement recipients.
“The award is a powerful way to communicate to young people that taking
challenging high school courses can pay off in the future,” senior vice
president of the SREB and director of “High Schools That Work,” Gene