For Chasteen, National
Award Advances Lifelong Journey
F. Shop ’05
Some people enjoy winning awards for the fame
or glory. But not Ed Chasteen. The retired William
Jewell College sociology professor used such an
occasion recently to continue a journey he began
nearly four decades ago.
Dr. Chasteen, who taught sociology from 1965 to
1995, was honored in January by the National Multiple
Sclerosis Society with the prestigious MS Achievement
Award. He was chosen from a pool of deserving nominees
from 12 states because of the difference he has
made in the lives of those with MS and in his community.
After being diagnosed in 1981 with MS, an unpredictable
neurological disease that affects the central nervous
system, Chasteen was told he would no longer be
able to remain active. But he resolved to prove
his doctor and the world wrong. Short bicycle trips
to and from work forged the path for a monumental
journey that would raise awareness of the disease,
and even change the way the public viewed MS.
In 1987, Chasteen rode across America—from
Orlando to Seattle to Los Angeles—traveling
5,126 miles in 105 days, penniless and alone. Along
the way, Ed relied only on the generosity and kindness
of others, proving that MS is powerless to immobilize
a robust spirit, while also revealing the caring
and compassion of his fellow citizens.
But his journey has not ended. Chasteen continues
his efforts through fundraising for the annual
MS150 Bike Tour, speaking to various groups and
serving as ambassador for the Mid America Chapter
of the MS Society.
Chasteen Book Proceeds to Benefit Jewell
To show his appreciation, Dr. Ed Chasteen
will donate to the College all proceeds from
his upcoming book William Jewell College:
Chasteen calls the book, “The story
of the inspiration that drew me here and
kept me here.”
He recites the famous words from Lerner
and Loewe’s musical of the same name
to describe what Jewell means to him:
Don’t let it be forgot,
there was a spot,
For one brief shining moment,
That was known
If you request the book and send a contribution
of $100.00 (or more) to William Jewell College, Dr.
Chasteen will send you an electronic copy
which can be read on line or downloaded and
printed. For those who want a hardback
copy, please contact Dr. Chasteen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“The MS Achievement Award honors what people
with MS can and do accomplish in their personal
and professional lives despite the obstacles they
face because of their disease,” said Kay
Julian, President of the National MS Society -
Mid America Chapter. “Ed manages to touch
so many people’s lives and change so many
attitudes. He is a force to be reckoned with.”
Ed seized the opportunity the award accorded to
continue his life’s work. More than 20 years
ago, Chasteen founded HateBusters, an organization
that brings people from different ethnicities and
backgrounds together to find common ground. He
has intervened in situations around the country
where racially motivated hate has caused conflict
in communities. And he regularly brings together
diverse groups of people in his own community.
By traveling cross-country with no money, visiting
divided communities and sponsoring interracial
and interfaith events, Ed has overcome obstacles
many might simply avoid. But from potentially volatile
situations, Chasteen has emerged with enduring
“None of us is born knowing anybody,” Chasteen
likes to say. “I think the purpose of life
is to make as many friends as possible, and that’s
what I try to do.” By doing just that, Chasteen
has built bridges between otherwise divided communities.
The MS award ceremony provided Ed with yet another
opportunity to bring people together.
When the MS Society asked Chasteen where he would
like to receive the award, he immediately knew
the answer: Second Baptist Church of Liberty. Since
1986 he has served as the church’s ambassador
to other communities of faith, facilitating interchange
between his church and others. “We don’t
go to change them, and we don’t go to join
them,” said Chasteen. “We go to get
to know them.”
On Sunday, Jan. 30, hundreds of friends showed
their appreciation for Chasteen’s hard work.
People of all faiths and ethnic and racial backgrounds
joined members of the MS Society, local bike riders,
members of the William Jewell community and members
of Second Baptist, to congratulate Ed on the difference
he has made in the lives of so many.
“There were all kinds of people who had
nothing in common except they all know me,” Chasteen
said of the large crowd. “They thought they
were honoring me, but really I was just getting
them there to meet each other,” he added,
Ed saw this day as an excuse to bring his various
friends together to do what he’s always done.
But despite their differences, the guests all agreed
on at least one thing: it was really a day to celebrate
the lifelong journey of a remarkable human being.