Home>Service> Global Love of Lives Award> 18th Fervent Global Love of Lives Award> The Blind Rider of Peace —— Tore Naerland
【A Journey for Love; Bike for Peace】

In the past fifty years, I have biked for peace non-stop. I went through the ups and downs of life and found inspiration in the people I met along the way. I devoted myself to advocating disarmament.
—Tore Naerland
 
Challenging Obstacles, Setting out on a Journey for Love
Wherever the Nobel Peace Prize goes to, Naerland follows; every year, he rides a bicycle to the awardee’s country, and pays tribute to the awardee and the country’s citizens.
Tore Naerland is from Norway, and he was once nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. On a tandem bike, he and many other bicyclists who share the same ambition bike around the globe. They’ve adventured everywhere, including the Soviet Union before the collapse of the Iron Curtain, East Germany, and heavily guarded Pyongyang. They even crossed the US continent, coast to coast, and the Gobi Desert in Mongolia. It’s hard to believe that all these accomplishments were achieved by a partially blind man who lost 97% of his eyesight. At the age of 15, he was diagnosed with Leber Hereditary Optic Neuropathy, LHON. The disease took away his sight, leaving only 3% of it. Nonetheless, the illness didn’t dampen his desire to explore the world or make him forget how to love. Instead, a brand new journey began the moment he lost his vision.
On a tandem bike, he set off on a journey to various countries, learning along the way. He has been to Leningrad under USSR regime, known as Saint Petersburg today, and paid visits to many churches as well as humanitarian organizations. He’s also been to Warsaw in Poland, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and London. Beneath his wide and glorious travel map lies a monumental goal—world peace. With unconditional love for world peace, this partially blind man is still riding to different countries to promote peace, just as he has done in the past 50 years. He continues to challenge his limits. He carries on with his journeys for love—unafraid of long distances and hardship along the way. Naerland bikes to the country of the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize every year to advocate peace, and rides across the whole country to salute the awardee and citizens. His remarkable achievements make him stand out among the 2,341 global candidates of the Fervent Global Love of Lives Medals. We are honored to award him the 18th Fervent Global Love of Lives Medal by the Chou Ta-Kuan Cultural and Educational Foundation.
 
Wheeling to a Peaceful World with 3% Vision
In 1954, Naerland was born in Naerbo, Rogaland state of Norway. For 15 years after his birth, his vision was as good as a normal person. However, he was diagnosed with LHON or Leber optic atrophy at 15. He stayed at a hospital in Oslo for a week after which unfortunately his eyes were found to have only 3% vision—almost blind. Naerland entered a center for special education of the visually impaired, and was trained to adapt himself to a life without light. At 18, he went to Boltenhagen in East Germany to attend a two-week sociopolitical course with the help of the institution. He showed strong interest and ambition in political affairs, and held a unique view towards this field during the course. Naerland took up the roles of an organizer and leader in churches as well as various groups. He pushed past the limits people assumed blind people would suffer from, surprising many.
Starting from 1972, Naerland’s learning tour has led him all over Europe, from Moscow, Leningrad to London, Warsaw. In these cities, he has met leaders of all fields and people from all walks of life, and discussed human rights, environmental and other issues with them. He was only 20 at that time, but he demonstrated outstanding talent in the discipline.
Despite the fact that he lost his vision, his gifts and care for public affairs, little by little, have formed a power, and initiated Bike For Peace in 1978. Holding Naerland’s passion and hope for world peace, the bike team set off for every corner of the globe to spread the dream of this blind but insightful fighter.
 
Around-the-Globe Bike Tour in 79 days to Promote Love and Peace
During the tours, Naerland told his story again and again to his new friends. He told them that he woke up one morning when he was 15 and found he had lost one eye’s vision, and then two months later, he lost the other eye’s, too. Just like anyone struck by this tragedy would act, Naerland was extremely depressed. He couldn’t believe this was happening. He used to be an energetic, optimistic and careless boy who also had potential to be a soccer player. Yet, all of a sudden, 97% of his vision was lost when he was only 15.
Naerland couldn’t have imagined that this tragic predicament actually paid back with such plentiful and priceless experiences. In 1979, the 25-year-old man broke Fogg’s record in Around the World in Eighty Days, and set a new record of traveling around the world in 79 days.
Accompanied by a car and a tandem bike partner, Naerland and his partners set out on the road. This time they rode for peace and mutual understanding. The incredible tour became an unforgettable and enduring memory of their lives. They met many important political and religious leaders including the former King of Norway Olav V, Pope Johannes Paul II, the former First Lady of Egypt Jehan Sadat at her house, and the former Vice President of America, Walter Mondale, who warmly welcomed them. Nevertheless, to him, the most memorable were the warm greetings from ordinary people around the world.
During the tour, they also spread a crucial message to the world. Naerland encouraged the physically and mentally disabled and people dealing with difficulties in their lives with his own acts: “what you are able to do is much more than what you believe in.”
 
The Peaceful World is his Stadium
Now 61, Naerland looks back at the past fifty years; he has biked for peace non-stop. He went through the ups and downs of life and found inspiration in the people he met along the way. He devoted himself to advocating disarmament. One of the people that have a huge impact on him is Kameno Fjiwara, a victim of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima in 1945. Alexander Velikine, who got injured in the Chernobyl accident, is another one. Their unfortunate stories fortify Naerland’s determination to promote world peace, and raise people’s awareness of the threat of nuclear weapons to decrease armament needs in each country.
In March 2004, Naerland visited the Nobel Peace Prize winner Ms. RigobertaMenchu, an indigenous Guatemalan woman. Though she has contributed greatly to peace and environmental protection, she remains humble, and thinks that Lady RigobertaMenchu’s words are enlightening to him.
Lady Menchu fueled Naerland with positive energy, and stimulated him to take more action to protect this planet. She once said, “If the other side means war and weapons, I firmly believe that nonviolent action is the best option to deal with problems.”
Naerland told the world: nonviolent actions tell people that we are entitled with the same rights and strength regardless of abilities or disabilities. Once this value becomes universal, people can have mutual understanding.
On Naerland’s 50th birthday party, many people gave speeches, including the governor of Rogaland ToraAasland. She spoke the following words to pay tribute to the Rider of Peace: There are many role models like Martin Luther King in this world for us to emulate. He has lighted up a path with wisdom and inspirations for us, and showed us a path with his actions. Not all people have the strength to combine dreams, visions and action perfectly like Martin Luther King. Nevertheless, Naerland took up the duty, and constantly fights for peace. The world is his stadium. He wields his incredible courage and persistence to complete his duty and mission.
 
Bike for Peace Nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize
World Peace Tour
To the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Drammensveien, 19, 0255, Oslo, Norway 16.05.1999
The lower house of the Parliament of Kazakhstan, the Mazhilis, is in favor of Tore Naerland’s candidacy for the 2000 Nobel Peace Prize. We recognize that Naerland is an active fighter of peace and disarmament. He promotes rights of the physically disabled and environmental protection. His achievements are well-known. He helps spread the importance of peace and humanitarianism. He teaches people to treat nature and human beings with mutual kindness and respect. In addition, he has completed tours of peace and an array of activities in over 19 countries including Eastern and Western Europe, North America, Asia, and Africa. World Ride1999 took place from March 18, 1999 to June 27, 1999, and started from Beijing in China to Bergen in Norway. It aimed to terminate nuclear weapons tests for the sake of Earth’s future and peace. Kazakhstan has implemented several nuclear tests from 1949 to 1991. We fully understand its harm, torture and horrible consequences. Naerland led his bike team on a cross-Kazakhstan tour, which lasted from April 28, 1999 to May 27, 1999. In this country, he organized conferences and seminars to discuss problems concerning this planet and peace. People of Kazakhstan supported Naerland’s goals and actions; thus we believe that Tore Naerland can be a candidate for the 2000 Nobel Peace Prize. (Engels Gabbassov, a member of the Mazhilis)
 
A Moving Moment
To the Norwegian Nobel Committee Drammensveien, 19, 0156, Oslo
Tore Naerland is a member of Bike for Peace with 97% impaired eyesight. He led a group of cyclists to ride across China. He delivered a moving speech, and promoted environmental protection and rights of the physically disabled. After hearing his speech and knowing about his advocacy for peace, we believe he deserves to be a candidate for the 2000 Nobel Peace Prize. We, the 14,0000 residents of Jiayu Pass firmly believe that Tore Naerland is eligible for nomination for the 2000 Nobel Peace Prize. (People of Jiayu Pass in China)
 
Cycling to Bring Peace around the World
The St. Petersburg Peace Council is in favor of Tore Naerland’s candidacy for the 2000 Nobel Peace Prize. Tore Naerland was born on April 28, 1954, and has lost 97% of vision since the age 15. However, this didn’t hinder him from becoming an active fighter for rights of the physically disabled and environmental protection. Naerland began to lead and organize a series of peace tours and activities in pursuit of the entitlement of the physically and mentally disabled. (1978、1979、1982、1983、1985、1986、1987、1989、1995、1996、1998)
His accomplishments have become well-known around the globe.
 
He helps spread the importance of peace and humanitarianism. He teaches people to treat nature and human beings with mutual kindness and respect. In addition, he has completed tours of peace and an array of activities in over 19 countries including Eastern and Western Europe, North America, Asia, and Africa. The person to hold the first global panel in ten secret USSR cities behind the Iron Curtain is Tore Naerland. His dedication to promoting peace and improving living conditions exceeds any form of boundaries—be it area, country, language and culture. World Ride1999 took place from March 18, 1999 to June 27, 1999. It started in Beijing and ended in Bergen, Norway. It aimed to terminate nuclear weapons tests for the sake of Earth’s future and peace. Naerland has cooperated with the St. Petersburg Peace Council since 1983 and has led the participants to travel across Russia. He has organized more than 50 conferences and seminars. We united with supporters of Naerland’s aims, and turned in a petition to the United Nations. The above are reasons why we consider Naerland to be worthy of recommendation for his candidacy of the 2000 Nobel Peace Prize. (Vera Brovkina, Chairperson of the St. Petersburg Peace Council and Professor Boris Bondarenko, Chairperson of the Board of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War in St. Petersburg.)