Day 18: Home away from Home

Today the team rode 77.8 miles from Rockville, Indiana to Champaign, Illinois. The day started out great with a wonderful pancake breakfast from Randy and Aunt Martha (our hosts). We then set out on the country roads that would take us home. Approximately 10 miles in we crossed the state line to Illinois and I felt a rush that we were finally home. We had completed our first major milestone, we made it from New York to Illinois!! The ride today was a bit difficult with 16 mph winds alternating between headwinds and crosswinds. Everyone was avidly watching their bike computers the majority of the ride because we all wanted to reach our destination. Each mile felt long with the rushing wind, but the thought of being in our home away from home was an excellent motivation to push through.

Today we had the privilege of riding with three prestigious guests: chancellor Robert Jones, vice chancellor of advancement Barry Benson, and president of University of Illinois foundation Jim Moore. The chancellor even deemed himself a new nickname (sir chancelot). These three were a blast to ride with and Barry and Jim definitely proved they could keep up with the team! The chancellor having only done 20 mile rides prior to today realized that 77 miles was a bit of stretch, but he was still able to complete 50 miles! He and the group he rode with today even bonded over the team’s love of Waffle House. Needless to say the Chancellor is a cool dude!

Once we arrived in Urbana, we were escorted by two police bikes and a police car the 3 miles to Beckman Institute. We all felt like celebrities riding through campus with cars stopping to take our picture. Upon arriving to Beckman we saw a large crowd filled with parents, faculty, friends, other Illini 4000 alum, and many more all cheering for us. It was a surreal experience and a little emotional to return back to where it all started and to realize that we had just biked the 1000+ miles home. The support, and love felt upon arriving at Beckman puts into perspective how important our cause is!

At the ceremony inside Beckman we met David Krantz who represented the Cancer Center at University of Illinois. He graciously spoke about Illini 4000 and the positive impact it brings to ending cancer. He also shared his own experience watching his family pass from cancer and explained that he wanted to make a contribution to our organization. On behalf of David Krantz and his wife 10,000 dollars was donated to Illini 4000. This generous gift made the team extremely emotional. With this large donation we now have the ability to make a greater impact on the cancer groups we donate to. We cannot thank the Krantz family enough for their generosity. The mayors of Champaign and Urbana also dubbed June 5th Illini 4000 day!!!

Overall a very emotional and proud day for the team. Days like today make the hard journey worth it.
~ Tailwinds~
Mandy

Flat count: 0
Song of the day: I’m coming home
Memorable moment: Barry Benson falling off his bike and Rachel getting photo evidence of it :)

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