A year ago today I finished what has been one of the biggest moments of my life. But to understand this we need to step back a little…

 

  I joined what was at the time a small-ish blogging community online, I needed a place to vent, a place to say what I thought, and a place to lose my filter and just be me. After searching the internet I stumbled across a place called www.thoughts.com there I found more than I ever dreamed I would.

 Fast forward just a bit, after a few years of blogging I met someone there, I followed her blog and we spoke often about our different lives. I loved her adventurous spirit. For someone so young and so beautiful she had a heart of gold and she gave a lot of herself to her friends and her family. I found that she had joined the Red Cross and was in South Africa after dropping out of school and giving up her posh life in the UK to do something she believed in. Then after a while she disappeared… time went by and when she returned she had a confession. She told us that she had MS and was getting treatment; she even apologized to us for not telling anyone and not being honest. She said she just wanted to be herself and not the girl with MS like she was in her close circle of family and friends. Then I found out that her symptoms were getting bad fast, it was what the doctor told her that made her leave school and want to help people. She was told that in a few years it was likely that she would lose a good bit of motor function and would need assistance.

 My heart was broken for her, but I just tried to be the friend I always had, the times zone difference was tough but we spent many times chatting and just talking telling stories about our family and I was learning about MS and the struggles of people in Africa.

 Then she was gone… A brain tumor… and just like that one of the brightest lights I had met in the world was gone. Many of us in the ever growing blogging community were dumbfounded… our hearts heavy… changing avatars to white roses to remember our friend. I wanted to do something… I did not know what but I wanted to do something… then it hit me… I emailed the people at thoughts and asked permission to fundraise… Me just a fat factory worker… I was going to ride my bike in the local MS bike ride… it was an MS150 but that was not enough they had a 25 mile loop challenge each day so that you could ride 100 miles each day… to many people with MS cannot even walk on their own I could force myself to ride. We raised a lot of money and cried many tears… but I did it for her… I could do nothing different. I received a heartfelt email from her sister the night before my ride… I printed it and when I faltered… and I did do just that I would read it… and with misty eyes keep going.

 

 Time goes on and things change people… I blogged about my experience I talked about doing more… doing anything. And it was the following year I found out that people were truly reading and it was really having an effect on people’s lives. A blogger whom I became very close to was with me in heart and soul during all of this… forever know to most as Bootlady she decided to write an essay about me and my adventures. I won’t share that here for me it is a bit personal… maybe I would with her permission but with that essay she won me the right to go to the Thoughts.com official launch party… that trip I think was another stepping stone to really changing the course of my life. I met so many great people and I was truly over whelmed by the response to my bike ride and to the support. The people hugging me with tears in their eyes telling me I was an inspiration. Me? Just an overweight factory worker… not Lance Armstrong… not some super star… just some average guy who decided in 2007 to start blogging. Who would have ever guessed a blog could change your life.

 

 So there I sit at the launch party surrounded by people feeling overwhelmed with emotion riding the high one gets from moments like this I look over at one of the guys there and say, “ You know what… I want to do something more… Next year I will ride my bike from my home to the thoughts office… for MS and for thoughts… for all the love that you guys have shown all the money that has been donated and time I will do that!”  He (at the time I had no idea who I was really talking to) said “oh yeah? If you do it I will ride with you.” That moment changed my life forever…

Here in the man that helped me make it all real… I will never forget what you helped me do brother…

 That was the seed that started the friendship… Viktor is my brother now… we have been through a lot together.

  That night was the birth of the One Love Bike Ride… 756 miles in 7 and a half days… from New Bern, NC to Winter Garden, FL. And exactly one year ago today this was our last day; this was the day we finished this epic journey. I know people have ridden across country and people have done much more… and I am not taking anything away from them. But I am just a factory worker who is 5’8 and over 250lbs I did not use bicycle shorts… no extra padding… just me and the bike. But it’s not about me… it’s about the millions of people in this world with MS the people who cannot hold a glass of water or hug their loved ones… the people who cannot lift their head and say I Love you… this was for them. I met so many amazing people… pushed my limit so many times I don’t even know if I have a limit anymore.

  This trip forever changed me and my family… my kids know that nothing is impossible if you believe and hold others needs above your own… this know that love and passion make this life worth living not money and stuff. This, for me, is a bitter sweet day for one year ago I finish a journey of a life time… and today I sit here and I am able to write about it and I cannot help but wonder…. What’s next…?

 

   Smile… when you do the love in your soul is able to come out and touch everyone around you and that is beautiful.

  P.S.  When the doctor tells you that you can’t I would never tell you that you should not listen to him… but my body told me I could… and I did, even slightly broken.

 

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