Since Pittsburg, Champaign, Chicago…

I apologize for not posting a blog since Pittsburg. Much has happened since then. Many cities have been visited. Enthusiastic friends and family, as well as the Daily Illini and other news sources met our homecoming ride to Champaign-Urbana. I got somewhat emotional as I just completed four years of school and graduated in May. I got to walk around through campus and take in the college life for what seemed the last time.

Our arrival to Millennium Park in Chicago was met by an even larger more enthusiastic group of friends and family. It was only two and a half weeks but it seemed like it was half way through the ride. I got to spend great time with my friends and family, and I also got to spend time with my nephew, Benjamin, for his first birthday. The best part of the ride was bringing my family and friends for the Ride Along. They got a 16-mile taste of what we do day in and day out. It felt like a warm up for me and my guest thought it was great and a lot lighter than they expected. Leaving Chicago was a bit tough, but very exciting knowing that 2/3s of the ride was still ahead of us.

We departed Chicago for Lake Geneva, Wisconsin and the beginning of the rest of our ride. We got to stay with the Topols and were accompanied by former ride leaders for the day. The following days were all met by beautiful scenery in Wisconsin and interacting with amazing people. We entered Minnesota and rode toward Rochester for an event day and a time to meet people battling with cancer at the Hope Lodge. I got to meet a wonderful woman who was battling a cancer tumor that was found in her midsection that was removed but has since affected her again. She is forced to spend Monday through Friday in the Hope Lodge hundreds of miles from her family in North Dakota. She spoke about her experience with a group of us and it really touched me. She explained that she is a nurse practitioner and how her experience has really affected her in that she is for a change the person that is receiving the care and help from others which is hard for her. I asked her, thus far what has been the most difficult part of her battle with cancer and she said that it was telling her family, especially her children. This really hit me hard as she in many ways she reminded me of my mother who is also a nurse and a mother. I gave her a hug and wished her luck in her battle, and she wished us luck on our journey.

The following day we got to tour the Mayo Clinic. This was amazing, we got to see and experience one of the most technologically, innovative, and compassionate facilities in the world. We were also interviewed for the local news that aired the same night. Our experience in Rochester and our ride was deeply dampened as two of our riders were sent home due to extreme circumstances. This really affected others and myself negatively.

Today was a day of healing from our loss. The ride was an easy one, with perfect weather to Albert Lea, MN. During the ride and as we arrived I began to feel a bit better. We got to our stayover and decided to explore he town as we arrived before the team van and the pastor as well. We went in search for food donations. We entered The Taco King and I approached the owner, Raul Campos, the Taco King, and I explained that we were in search of food donations for the team. He responded with out hesitation and was more than happy to feed 26 cyclists. He invited us to his home where they were having a graduation party for his son, Jose. We all got to eat and enjoy a great time with the Campos family and friends. Aside from food donations, the party also donated $200 in cash to our cause. This was truly an amazing experience and I feel that I have made great friends.
After our awesome dinner, we returned to our stayover. We decided to jump in the lake, and after Josh, Taylor, and myself played frisbee in a park and were joined by three young boys. We taught them how to play for over an hour and a half. It was great time and truly made me happy interacting with them and making an impact in their lives.

I’m still recovering from our team loss but I’m excited to finish the rest of the ride. Today has been a great day that gives me motivation to continue riding and fighting the battle against cancer.

Comments (2)
  • Jill Canaday says:

    If you are reading this Raul Campos of Taco King, thank you so much for your generosity!
    Stay safe I4K riders. We need you more than you know.

  • Nancy Replogle says:

    It was so nice of you to recognize your teammates that went home. I am sure they are following your journey through your Blogs. Great pictures of the team at Millenium Park. It was touching to read about your interaction with cancer patients at Hope Lodge. I do hope they find a cure some day soon. Be safe and enjoy the rest of your ride.

Leave a Reply