More Than What We Put In

Looking up from my computer screen writing this post, I can see that I am surrounded by my teammates hanging around after dinner. And I’m overwhelmed by the number of us flashing radiant smiles and laughing with abandon. That’s the unbelievable thing about the Illini 4000- after about 12 days together, we’re like friends of many years.

It’s not just the close quarters, goofy inside jokes, or slap-happy moments we have at the end of a tough day. We are essentially similar on the basis that we are all the type to dedicate two months to actively support a cause which most others do not. We all endured the friends back home (for me, Mike) who openly called us crazy in front of others, roommates (Charles) who teased us for going to sleep early so we could make training, and relatives (Mom) fawning over how safe the trip may be.

The easiest thing to say is that I’m having the time of my life, and with a sense of humor. In the future I could go into further detail about forming the “Allegheny Biker Gang” by painting my face with clay from a waterfall in Pittsburgh, letting curious strangers in sparsely populated areas know we’re riding to San¬†Francisco¬†with a consistent response of “Oh S***! Good Luck!”, the hilarious outcomes of taking a corner too fast in West Virginia, or even my sassy Korean/German female alter ego.

Through the sore legs, bug bites, lost voice, and grime that I somehow cover myself with every day, I’m accepting a realization that a much smarter man would have picked up on day one. We’ve heard day-to-day, “you get much more out than you put in” from our unbelievably generous hosts, and it’s incredibly accurate. We’ve put in time during the year fundraising and preparing for the trip, we’ve dedicated our summer to crossing America to raise money and gather the stories of cancer survivors. But in return we’ve gained unparalleled friendships, developed skills, and met locals with hearts of gold.

What we get the most in return, though, is an opportunity to end the uncannily familiar story which we remind ourselves of on a daily basis. “Today we ride for ____, who was a beloved friend/father/brother/aunt/cousin/etc. Crush that mountain”.

Comments (1)
  • Johnine Meehan says:

    Wow! I am so proud of my son! And so happy for him and the I4K team for all that they are getting and giving in this Herculean endeavor.

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