Big Sur, big moments….CCC days 3 and 4

“Courage and perseverance have a magical talisman, before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish into thin air.”  John Quincy Adams

So, the riders actually made it to Big Sur on Monday…and soaked their feet in the river, sitting in Adirondack chairs in the water while sipping beer.  But the cell reception is absent, so I couldn’t get the details until our evening phone call last night.

10678544_10203716160357308_6081594654706937337_n10710787_841469609197929_4189949543869280773_nDave and Dan were sporting some jerseys we picked up at a brewery this summer on our vacation in Moab.

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It was a 40 mile ride between Monterey and Big Sur – which offered plenty of time to stop and enjoy the sites.  Despite learning the lesson year one that he was going to be able to complete the ride, and that he should now stop and enjoy the journey – this is still not one of Dave’s strong points.  While other riders like to stop at the local taco spot for lunch, Dave powers through those quaint towns.  Basically he only stops long enough to get some fuel at a rest stop or take photos.  Sitting down for any length of time, he says, causes “Café Legs” – or cramping, stiff legs that are not eager to pedal again.  But the sites on Monday were too great for even Dave to resist.  Along the coast that day, not only were there sea lions and dolphins, but several pods of whales – who were blowing, breaching, spying and generally entertaining the riders who were stopped to enjoy the majesty. So the day, with its beautiful vistas, seems to have had a more relaxed pace and vibe – which translated into more conversations, more people to meet, more connections.

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The stop at Big Sur River Inn also is acceptable – being near the end of the ride day.  (There’s also a shuttle going to and from the campground for convenience.)  It was here that Dave got to talk to Jerry.  I’ve been following Jerry’s story as he trained and fundraised for this ride in support of his 4 year old grandson Carter – who is so dang cute he looks like he popped off a Gymboree ad.  Jerry has a facebook page and has branded his efforts 525_4 Carter.  He’s been telling the story, getting local businesses involved and really going gangbusters.  Without having met him, I get the sense that all of his efforts are to balance the frustration he feels at seeing his precious grandson in pain…. and not being able to do anything about it.  When Dave talked to him, he could see that look… that shell shocked, just- been- through- hell -and- can’t -barely -turn- around- in- case- hell- is -chasing -you look. It’s that look that I remember on my own face for a long time… years probably, after Caitlin’s diagnosis.  That disbelief, that awe… that small flickering flame of hope trying to grow.  It’s the look I see on other parent’s faces when they are new to the family, and they are telling me their story with a sense of desperation – and there is a moment when our eyes meet and I can tell we will both cry.

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I don’t suppose Dave cried – but the moments he had that day brought him to the brink.

It’s always a fine line when we meet people who are newly diagnosed.  We want to share our story – and we don’t want to lie.  But we certainly don’t want every person who is already freaked out by every black box label and crazy statistic they have read on the internet to think that their kid will try and fail so many medications.  Or have their femoral heads sawed off and replaced with titanium.  But we also don’t want them to not “get it”.  They need to know what the monster is and that they will have to fight.  But that there are a lot of happy endings.  And middles.  And everything around in between.

Jerry clearly gets it.10665806_10152554265733673_4064968462862362567_n  And I believe that as he is pedaling this ride, every mile he is thinking of his beautiful grandson Carter…. knowing he would never stop pedaling and telling his story  if it meant the end of arthritis for that little boy.

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(this is Jerry with Amy D and Monica- two of the staff who make this whole ride possible!)

Dave is fond of saying that there is at least one moment at every event we attend or work that just shoots an arrow of this mission directly to your heart.  There is always a story, or a person, or a family… there is something that makes whatever you are doing – whether you are pushing a porta-potty across a hot parking lot, or handing out water, or setting up at 4am, or pedaling up a steep hill at the end of a really long day- there’s is always something that reminds you WHY.  Why you are volunteering.  Why you are spending your time.  Why you want to make a difference.

At the Orange County Arthritis Walk – Dave spent the morning in the CCC booth telling people about the ride.  There were two riders that signed up as a result of that 3 hours.  Two people out of 3000 that were there that day.  But – it was John, a JA dad and veteran. He found Dave at Big Sur and thanked him for motivating him to sign up.  John is active 46417bf3-1f36-467f-b951-f05ef4dbf40dduty military police in the Navy and is riding in honor of his daughter Hayden, who was diagnosed at age two.  Dave then thanked him for his service and I believe there may have been handshakes. (In my mind it was hugs, but I wasn’t really there..)

The honoree for the Big Sur day was Natascha- who is a 28 year-old dynamo who was diagnosed with arthritis at age 12.  It was a very difficult journey getting control and along the way, she was in a wheelchair, on crutches, splints and plenty of pain.  Natascha enjoyed her AF camp experiences so much, that she became a counselor as an adult – and now she is a mentor and trailblazer for kids with arthritis.  One of the best things about her is her perseverance and fortitude.  This chick does not give up.  She sticks to it so much that she is riding the ride this year.  Not part of a day.  Not just one or two days.  The whole ride.  It’s not really possible to spend time with Natascha and miss getting a mission arrow through the heart.

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So, it was one of those days.  Big Sur was beautiful.  The scenery was beautiful.  But the most beautiful thing was the people.

And while I am thinking about all the remarkable people on the ride – I want to extend some thanks to the remarkable people who supported Dave in making this week sojourn possible.  Dave’s parents drove all the way down from Oregon and his sister drove in with my nephew to cheer the riders on the start line- I know it meant a lot to him. Dan’s family was there too – both in SF and in Santa Cruz.  My family has been doing some serious overtime, with babysitting and pick-ups and drop-offs (not because I am at the wine bar!  It’s just too many things happening at the same time:) – I swear I gave them a two-page schedule with attached maps for everything I asked them to help me with while Dave is gone.  Dave’s work has been fantastic – not only his office mates, but the vendors, the guys all through the field- they have donated and supported him black eyes and all.  And naturally – all of the people who donated to Dave and Dan made this possible.

Thank you – and my most heartfelt gratitude to you.  May blessings rain down upon you all!

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