NEW YORK - The rubber tread on the huge wheel was worn, but the humble unicycle tire took Lutheran pastor Lars Clausen across America in his effort to help the Eskimos to whom he once ministered.
"It's a great adventure and it's a way for me to help the Eskimos of Alaska," Clausen, 41, said Saturday, as he ended his trek at the Statue of Liberty. His wife and two children, both on unicycles, joined him for the final ferry ride to the statue off Manhattan.
Clausen began the 5,000-mile cross-country journey April 29 in the Whidbey Island town of Greenbank, Wash. Next week, he plans to turn around and unicycle all the way back.
His goal was to raise money for an endowment fund for the Inupiat Eskimos of the Seward Peninsula, where he had his first preaching assignment. So far $250,000 has been collected from various sources for the fund, administered by the Chicago-based Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The endowment's goal is to raise $5 million.
Clausen and his wife, Anne, spent 3 1/2 years with the Eskimos, who live a subsistence lifestyle hunting whales, seals and walruses.
They chose to help the fund because "this is what meant most to us. These Eskimos have been our teachers and our mentors," Anne Clausen said.
She said she and her husband had learned patience, cooperation, and how to avoid conflict from the Eskimos.