I just wanted to take a moment to let you know how my ride in the Sunflowers to Roses bike ride on Sunday, August 17th went. Wow what a day in terms of weather, number of riders, and yes once again number of hills. The winds were calm. The sky was sunny, and the temperature started out right around 65. We had almost 400 riders – 400 men, women, and children. 400 riders all thinking about what this ride meant to them. All thinking about what this meant to their family and friends.
Last year, I started out by saying three words, wonderful, memorable, and hilly. Then upon further reflection more words kept creeping into my mind, rewarding… humbling… and emotional…. This year, was no different – except the word emotional took on a new and bigger meaning. In fact, for me, this whole year has taken on new meaning.
With that said, I wanted to pass along a piece about the ride that has stuck with me.
One of the riders on our team pulled his daughter behind him for the entire ride. Up hills, down hills, and on long/short straight always. He started out as strong as the rest of us, but as the ride continued he started to feel the impact of pulling his daughter along… but he never stopped. He continued on. Since we were a team, we all hung back to offer our encouragement. On occasion, one or two of us would blow out the legs a little (in other words – we got to go fast for a minute), but we would always come back to the group. Near the end, he was really struggling. The hills were catching up to him, yet he still did not stop. In fact, even when we offered to take over and ride his bike for awhile, he would not stop. He had set a goal to make it to the end. He continued on. So we rode on, kidding him and encouraging him, all the while watching for the finish line. And when that line appeared, we crossed it together.
Why am I telling you this story? Well, it reminds me of my dad and his cancer battle. He was as strong as any of us in the beginning – actually stronger. He kept up with us, but the hills of his battle took their toll on him. He slowed down, but he never gave up. All of us took our time to be with him. Offering encouragement, kidding him, just riding along with him to let him know he was not alone. Along the way, we wish we could have taken over for a little while, but this was one ride he had to do by himself, but with a chorus of supporters surrounding him. His goal was set. He continued on. When it was all said and done, we were able to cross the finish line together, we were finally able to stop and say how proud we are of him. We can now say he is a cancer survivor.
So with that short story in mind, I wanted to let each of you know who Team Imagine rode for. There are so many personal reasons why each of us did this, and there are so many things to say, but for us the names below say it all. We rode for the families of those listed below, and more importantly we rode for the following loved ones…
We rode in honor of: Robert Johnson (my dad), Betty Lepper, Lucy Butler, Wain Sloan & Christina Campbell, Norma Monday, Manisha Kulshresta, Bryan Lee, Jan Condreay & Dottie Arms, Sonja Yngve, Louis F. Rhodes, Jr., Dick and Judy Russell, and all cancer victims and their families.
We rode in memory of: Aunt Venesa (my aunt), Gene Hilt, James Stillman, Grandpa Rich, Herman Spain, Dorothy and Elsie Woodruff, Russ’ Dad, Paul’s Mom, Vina Lue Larson, Hema’s aunt who fought the 18 year battle against breast cancer, Meeta & Milan’s dear friend – Sameer & cousin – Uma Jiji, Ruth Morsbach, James A. Lewis, Louis Rhodes, Sr., Carol Kramer, Jean McClatchey, Wilma Young, and as a friend of mine said, “all my family members who have died from cancer and are too numerous to name.”
During this ride, I thought about each of you. I thought about your loved ones. I thought of our hope, our pain, our glee, and sometimes our grief.
Thank you for taking the time to read this, and for allowing me to ride for so many of you. Thank you for allowing me to ride in memory/honor of your loved ones.
Take care my friends.