From Sea to Shining Sea-ttle

I am truly at a loss for words.

It doesn’t seem possible that over the past 72 days I have, and along with 19 other amazing people, rode across the United States. Day by day we rode up to 110 miles, through rain, hail, hot desert heat, cool breezes, 30 mph winds, and under seemingly endless blue skies. Looking back, it seems like a dream. From all of the wonderful support we have seen across the country from the big cities in the East to the small towns in the West and from all of those who have been touched by cancer and are surviving and fighting, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Without each and everyone of you, those who donated, those who have opened your hearts and mind to what may seem to some a crazy adventure, we could not have had such an impact as we have and will continue to do.

As I sit in the AEPi fraternity house in Seattle on the University of Washington Campus, Nick asleep on the couch and Jon is taking Sandy (the last of the I4K riders to leave Seattle) to the airport, I realize that tomorrow will be bittersweet. Leaving in the van, driving back to Chicago in what can be a 24 hours drive, which took us over a month to bicycle across, reality will set in. Everyone has left, but the memories and the emotions are still with me. As this ride has changed not only the way I look at America, but to see the good in everyone and everything, crying just makes me realize that this ride truly meant something. It has reached apart of my soul that I didn’t think was possible. Tackling mountians, winds, and mostly emotions throughout the ride, I will undoubtably miss these challenges and everyone that I have became so close to these past 72 days.

72 days. That is all it took for me to ride from New York to Seattle. 72 days of muscle aches, of mental strengthening, and most of all the laughter and happiness I have found. Not only have the several moving stories of the cancer survivors, from the first at the Walter Reed Hospital, to the last portraits project with 6 surviving cancer patients in Astoria, Oregon, but also the people along the way, inquiring what we were doing and why we would do such a trip. We all have different reasons, but overwhelmingly we have all been affected by cancer. So, to those who are surviving and thriving we are doing this for you, for those who are fighting we are doing this for you, for those who will one day be diagnosed with cancer we are doing this for you, and for those whose lives have somehow been touched by cancer we are doing this for you.

This journey, and chapter of my life, has come to a close. Never will I forget the crazy stories and hilarious bike rides and people I have met, friends that I have made, sights that I have seen, and the laughter, which always brought us together. Never have I seen such a mixed group of people work so well together, care for one another with all their hearts, motivate and never give up on one another. Thank you all for the a summer that I will never forget. You have all made an imprint on my heart and my life.

To the Riders:
Amy, Andrew, Ben, Brad, Connie, John, Dana, Fei, Yiming, XiXi, Jay, Praveen, Nick, Jon, Rachel, Matt, Takaya, Sandy, and Stephe-

I can not express my words well enough for you to understand how much each of you have meant to me. I have learned probably more on this trip than I did in college and I can not thank you guys enough for being there for me when I needed it the most. I have such great memories of all of you from laughing so hard in West Yellowstone that I couldn’t walk or stand up straight, the DMCs and onion peeling, watching the sunrise and sunset, making dinner while the piano plays a song from Amelie, jumping off of hay bales, riding through insanely busy streets, sleeping outside, brief side hugs, and the conversations that just made us laugh for hours. The list goes on…but in the end you all have made me a better person. Eventhough I will be figuring out what I will be doing this upcoming year, we each continue down our own paths, but when we remember the best summer of our lives, the summer of 2008, we will remember each other. We will remember the good and the bad, we will remember why we did the ride. Never again will the team ride as we did for 72 days, each in search of something different, but as 20 started on a cold morning in Central Park, 20 finished at Magnuson Park in Seattle.  

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