I’d would absolutely do a cross country ride again, but at a bit more leisurely pace. And I probably need to win the lottery to be away from work for that amount of time again. There is so much beauty in this country, both in landscape and people, that I’d like to take more time to immerse myself in it. And what advice would I give to those that want to do a similar feat; if you’re thinking of doing something epic, think outside the bucket and figure out how to help a worthy cause. Pray every morning. Don’t go into it to say “look what I did”, but “look what we did”. With what you get in return, you’ll need another bucket.
Bill and Claire have reflected on parts of the ride recently, and pack an awesome punch into a couple sentences. What a gift. I share their feelings. What a gift and honor it was for me to ride with them and Greg, Keith, Mark B, and Jim, and be supported by Liz, Barb, and the huskies. My joy alone that Michelle drove and our boys Mark and Matthew participated in and witnessed all the good in the country could speak volumes. In a short year I have already seen seeds bear fruit in recent decisions made by the boys. A longtime friend of the family emailed a short note my mother after the ride. She ended with “Don (my father) would be pleased”. That is one very humbling remark. I have been changed by this event in ways that I can’t fully articulate.
We set out to help others, and I know we did. Our financial goal was achieved and surpassed. The blueprint for the ride wasn’t perfect, but it wasn’t expected to be. Frankly imperfection increased the amount of encounters with strangers, and time after time we ended up being on the receiving end of unconditional kindness and generosity. It was major contributor to keeping our spirits up.
There are so many to thank, from mom and pop stores to campgrounds and hotels that gave us a break. Farm stands that just gave us food knowing what we were doing. Churches that gave us cupcakes and shelter. Family and friends, and people we encountered on the ride who contributed out of their pockets. Our many sponsors who allowed for all this to happen and to those that simply followed along and prayed for the cause and our safety. I’m sure there were some bruised and broken angels that watched over us, but that allowed us to break open the first aid kit for only one purpose; vitamin I (ibuprofen). THANK YOU.
Like the 42 days of the ride last year, this reflective exercise has come to an end quicker than I thought. I had a great time looking through the pictures that I hadn’t had a chance to go through during the ride. It brought back great memories. Riding for Mercy Housing was and is a perfect fit for me. It parallels my spiritual involvement with St Vincent de Paul and my professional journey as an architect. It’s hard to imagine to have ridden for anyone else. Adventure is out there. Find yours. And share it. Emil