Making A Difference

Today I left U of I as a graduated senior.  Driving away from campus knowing I was not going to be back next year was as bittersweet as it gets.  The bitterness portion is obvious as to why, but the sweet portion is usually harder for people to focus on.  For me, however, it was not.  I only had a few minutes to be sad because we leave for NYC is 11 days to ride our bikes across the country to raise awareness about cancer and spread hope.  Graduating is not something I have time nor need to dwell on because I am riding with the Illini4000 and will forever be connected to the University, in the most positive way, spending the summer with some of the most dedicated and kind-hearted people.

When someone asks what I am going to do now that I graduated, no one expects the answer I give them.  Today in-particular, however, was extra special.  While getting a tetanus shot at McKinley, the nurse asked me this question.  It was absolutely uplifting to witness her reaction.  Most people are interested, ask billions of questions, give us praise but still think we are all a tiny bit crazy.  But there was something about this total stranger being so genuinely excited for the trip and the cause, going as far as to write down when we would be in Champaign so she could come support us that day that gave me hope and pure inspiration.  I will be blessed this summer if we have this effect on even one cancer patient/caretaker/or survivor because then I know I am spending the summer after I graduated, instead of getting a job, doing something even more amazing; making a difference.

Beyond initial reactions, I had a fellow nursing student come up to me and sincerely thank me for what I was doing; that it meant more than I knew to her.  I was taken aback because so far for me most people tend to focus on how impressed they are that we can do the actual riding all summer long and sometimes forget why we are riding.  I was speechless for a few seconds not really sure how to respond.  All I could say was “Of course and thank you“, because I know now whenever I am having a rough day on the trip I will think of her and how much it meant to her that I was doing this.  That is what will keep me going.  I like to think about it as a circle of strength.

So thank you to the nurse at McKinley and my nursing peer for reminding me about the impact we are about to have on many lives this summer and for impacting me in a positive way.  This whole experience so far has been so inspirational and we haven’t even left yet!  So here’s to looking forward in life and not dwelling on the past because each new chapter in life is an opportunity to make a difference.

Comments (1)
  • Brad Topol Brad Topol says:

    So cool to read this. Get pumped and keep moving forward, one pedal at a time.

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