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Eber-Holmes clan is home -- News Roundup

Eber-Holmes clan is home

Last year at this time, Bainbridge Island residents Lorenz Eber, Paula Holmes-Eber and their daughters were preparing to embark on a journey around the world by bicycle.

Their goal was to raise asthma awareness and provide education through a promotional fund-raising tour more than 15,000 miles long through 22 countries.

The family has returned to the United States and will be in the Bainbridge area from April 24 through May 8, speaking about their experiences over the last 12 months.

On May 8, World Asthma Day, the Ebers will begin the last leg of their world journey. They will depart from Bainbridge Island, traveling eastward across the United States and Canada, ending their journey in Washington, D.C. in August.

Events during their stay on the island include:

April 30, 7 p.m., Island Center Hall, Bainbridge Island: talk and slide show on their journey.

May 1, 10 a.m. “Ride Around Winslow”: Pedal around town to discuss bicycle access with Bainbridge Island, state and local representatives, sponsored by Squeaky Wheels bicycle advocates.

May 1, 12:30 p.m, Bainbridge Island City Hall: welcome home reception.

May 3, 7 p.m. REI Seattle: talk and slide show

May 8, 10 a.m. Bainbridge Island: Family Fun bicycle ride, and farewell send-off to the Eber family on the last leg of their journey.

World Bike for Breath is a non-profit organization founded by Paula Eber, who was diagnosed with asthma at two years of age.

Funds raised will be donated equally to asthma and lung research and programs for asthmatic children and families – particularly underprivileged asthmatic children with poor medical care.

For more information or to donate to World Bike for Breath, contact the organization at 855-2907, or P.O. Box 11581 Bainbridge Island.

Gormleys wait for decision

Bainbridge Island Safeway employees Carol and Michael Gormley, South Africans seeking refugee status from this country’s U.S. Citizenshiop and Immigration Services, await a ruling after facing a three-judge panel April 1.

The Gormleys appeared before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, supported by 14 co-workers and friends who made the early-morning ferry trip with the couple.

Seattle attorney Carol Edward presented the oral arguments to allow the Gormleys to stay in the United States.

“Going over there, we were really nervous,” Michael Gormley said, “but we felt elated afterwards.”

The Gormleys left South Africa after that country’s 1996 Employment Equity Act, intended to bring black South Africans into the workforce after the dismantling of apartheid, led to the loss of the couple’s longtime jobs and made finding other work impossible.

“The whole case came down to the definition of ‘persecution,’ and whether they fit the definition of persecution,” said Safeway co-worker Sue Wilmot.

Edward based her argument on an INS criterion that defines persecution as “a deliberate imposition of substantial economic disadvantage on a protected ground” – the “protected ground” in this instance being race.

The Gormleys in 1999 moved to Bainbridge, where Carol Gormley’s daughter, Maureen Cruz, lives.

They entered the country on a visitor’s visa, and applied for political asylum.

In 2000, their application was denied by an immigration judge and an INS board summarily confirmed the denial in November of 2002 – a process “streamlined” in the wake of the events of Sept. 11, 2001.

The Gormleys appealed to the Ninth Circuit, and hired Edward, president of Seattle’s Immigration Attorney Association, to represent them. Edward countered the U.S. attorney’s argument that the policy of firing caucasian workers was the decision of private companies rather than official policy of the South African government by pointing to the fact that Carol Gormley had been a civil servant in the government’s postal service.

The Gormleys may have to wait for a decision for as long as six months, while the judges analyze the issues separately and reconvene to reach a determination.

The three-judge panel does not have the jurisdiction to grant asylum, but will return an opinion to the INS as to whether the Gormleys qualify for refugee status. An INS judge then decides the issue.

If the Gormleys are ultimately denied political asylum, the couple may still be able to stay if they receive a waiver based on health concerns. The middle-age couple are under treatment for several ailments, health care they say they could not get in South Africa.

Community members have contributed $13,000 toward legal fees now expected to top $25,000. An account at Safeway’s Key Bank is still accepting donations.

Race for Cure

sign-ups here

Registration for the 11th annual Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation Race for the Cure begins runs 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 23-24 at Town and Country Market on Bainbridge and Central Market in Poulsbo.

Signups will continue for the next two weekends April 30 and May 1 and May 7-8.

Register for Team Town and Country and other individual registration, and join the traditional 7:05 a.m. ferry ride to Seattle for the fund-raising event on June 6.

Race day activities at Seahawks Stadium will raise money to eradicate breast cancer and raise public awareness. In 2003, over $1.1 million was raised.

Events include a co-ed one-mile or 5K walk, and a 5K run for each of women’s and co-ed categories, as well as special races for children under five.

A double-sized quilt handmade by Town and Country employees Susan Calhoun and Carol Latham will be raffled off for $1 tickets that are available at T&C checkstands.

Race for the Cure registration is $25 in advance or $30 day-of-race. In-person registrants receive race numbers, T-shirts, and a special “Team T&C” membership hat.

For more information see www.seattleraceforthecure.org or email to kayruns@yahoo.com.

Get your good deeds funded

Bainbridge Island’s Health, Housing and Human Services Council invites nonprofit agencies providing health, housing and human services to island residents to apply for funding in 2005.

Last year, 10 agencies received from $5,000 to $90,000 each to provide youth services, daycare, volunteer and transportation services, and support to families in crisis.

Applications for the 2005 fiscal year will be available April 26 from the mayor’s office in City Hall, and are due back by 4 p.m. June 4.

Information: 842-9335.

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