Paddling for a moo-ving purpose


On Aug. 24-27, Rob Bean will take to the waters of the Missouri River
for a 340-mile, non-stop canoe and kayak marathon race
to raise awareness about Heifer International.

By: Susan Passi-Klaus

August 11, 2010

To make a living, Rob Bean juggles the complexities of the Internet for clients and the community. To make a life, he paddles a canoe to raise both money and awareness for a cause close to his heart: Heifer International.

He signs his e-mails, “Rob Bean, Chief Paddling Officer, The Big Moo Canoe.”

On Aug. 24-27, he will take to the waters of the Missouri River for a 340-mile, non-stop canoe and kayak marathon race across the state. It’s the third year Bean has put his paddle to a purpose using his Big Moo Canoe to attract attention and spread the word that Heifer International, a nonprofit based in Little Rock, Ark., has helped 12 million families in more than 125 countries become self-supporting through gifts of livestock and agriculture.


Rob Bean

In addition to helping Heifer International, his eight-man “Team Heifer” will donate 25-percent of all locally raised funds to the Food Bank for Larimer County.

“It definitely has become very much of a calling for me,” Bean says. “I try to be a good Methodist by living out the philosophy that actions speak louder than words and intentions. That was ingrained in me from a very young age. If you care about something, you get involved with it, and you put your passion behind it.”

The boat that Bean straps to the top of his car and totes to and from local rivers and lakes starts plenty of conversations. It’s an 18-foot Sawyer Loon painted with “cow-like” black prints. A large cowbell hangs under the deck to add what Bean calls, “pastureland ambiance.”

“To me, boats are a great metaphor for what our project is about,” he explained. “Practically, we use our boats as a vehicle to get from one place to another, and that’s exactly what we need to do when talking with the public. They see a boat that looks like a cow and the questions come. What’s this all about? What are you putting your energy into? Why are we doing this?” “I’m using canoeing to bring people into a conversation about things that are important to me.”

Also important to Bean is his church, First United Methodist in Fort Collins, Colo. Members have helped sponsor his charitable adventures since 2008 when he first launched the Big Moo Canoe project. Over the years, Bean has presented programs to older adults and youth. He even developed a challenge program for Sunday school classes where they raised $250 to buy a water buffalo as a gift for a family in a developing country.

Pastor Charles Schuster credits Bean and other members of his congregation for being “passion-driven.”

“We have a ministry environment at First United Methodist where things like this happen all the time,” he says. “Rob has involved the whole church, and we see it as our job to tap into and support and encourage the people whose ministry emerges from their own passions.”

“I look at what I’m doing as evangelism,” Bean says. “I may not be quoting Scripture or talking directly about church, but I am a Christian out in the community talking about things that matter. (I hope) people will see that I have a passion for helping others and will be inspired to put their own time and commitment behind something they feel passionate about.”

Learn more

The Big Moo Canoe for Heifer International

First United Methodist Church of Fort Collins, Colorado

Heifer International

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