With nothing but a 43-pound backpack and a pair of Rollerblades, one woman is making the trek across America all in the hopes of showcasing female empowerment and proving there’s more good in this world than we think.
Yanise Ho, 23, originally from Hong Kong, has taken on the mission of Rollerblading from Miami to New York to Portland without a penny to her name or any sort of plan, relying on the kindness of others to get by.
“There’s not a day I slept on the street or went hungry,” Ho told InsideEdition.com. “I’m actually at my host home right now. I just met them a couple of hours ago and I’ve been watching TV and hanging out with them.”
She explained this all started as a way to challenge the idea that girls shouldn’t be doing things on their own because they’re weaker, and more likely to become a victim to dangerous situations.
“I want to bring out the message that if you dream, it doesn’t matter what gender you are. You can do anything you believe yourself to be,” Ho said. “I’m sometimes criticized. [They say,] ‘You’re asking to be a victim [...] You’re going to get kidnapped because you’re a girl.’”
In fact, she said she’s discovered the opposite. Her rules are that she doesn’t accept money – just food and shelter if someone offers it to her.
“I was just Rollerblading on the country road and these two men pulled over and they were curious what I was doing,” she explained. “We talked a little bit and they were like, ‘Well, we’re about to have lunch do you want to come? We’re going to cook.’ And I said, ‘Yeah, I’m hungry. Let’s go. I went home with them, we had lunch, and I just ended up staying.”
Even though she’s outdoors most hours of the day, making headway into her journey across America, poor weather doesn’t slow her down.
“Even when it rained, I was so happy it rained because of the rain, I got to meet a lot of wonderful people,” she explained. “I can’t tell you how many times, as soon as it started raining, someone called me and said, ‘Hey, why are you standing in the rain? Come on in.’ And that’s when I met the best people.”
Ho also encounters some of the day-to-day issues that come with being on Rollerblades for days on end.
“My shoulders hurt every day, but I get used to it that,” she explained. “I get blisters, sometimes the bones in my feet hurt.”
While never the target of theft, her Rollerblades to break down once in a while, but she said she usually gets them repaired quickly. For more difficult repairs, she leans on her supporters on Facebook.
“Some people went as far as offering to drive eight hours to drop off some small little parts for my skates,” she said. “So I feel like there’s always people watching out for me.”
Ultimately, she said she hopes to raise awareness for the nonprofit One Girl Can to fund secondary school scholarships for girls in need in the name of gender equality. The scholarship Ho created was aptly named “The Bladress.”
“The name itself represents female empowerment,” she said. “That one girl can achieve more than what society predicts us to be able to do.”
To support her mission, visit the website.