Last Day of Tour de Grandview and success for the “Without You, We go Nowhere” ride

27 06 2010

At a beautiful spot, graciously granted to me by the event organizers of the Tour de Grandview and Staufs Coffee Roasters, I set up in a hot, humid day.  I had familiar faces all around. Casey had his tent right next to mine and B1 was in full attendence and as always his upbeat demeanor and humor was available (and I hid in the shade of his tent before the ride at high noon).  Trek, Deweys, Jeni’s ice cream, urban athelete, budwieser, Pelatonia (2 teams and a sign up tent), raising cain’s chicken, Roll:, Kenda, and a few more tents dominated 1st avenue and helped bring in the festive and cycling spirit. 

With my father’s help, I set up the table, got Defiance in place, prepped the iced tea (jasmine/rooibos with mint and fresh fruit) and iced coffee (gehrig’s blend) as got ready to ride.  My table was a riot of ALS related info, fliers from the Tri State Trek, ALSTDI, the Central and Southern ALS chapter, and The John Blaise foundation created a great picture of how big the fight is.

As noon rolled around, sweat was already falling and the heat was heavy.  My father had run to the store and bought a bright red stand umbrella that seemed helpful and appropriate (as I didnt want my volunteers to cook any more that myself).  Tom Patton (my brave and noble thesbian-actor – who brought his vocal and flamboyant approach to the stage of selling tea/coffee and promoting the to high effect) my 1st volunteer showed up and we were off. 

Tom was amazing, his brave, rich voice called out to the passersby and heralded the cause, casting appeals for donations in exchange for Gehrig’s blend iced coffee or jasmine/rooibos tea {infused with Ohio blackberries and strawberries, Georgia Thompson peaches (from Rife’s-a seasonal favorite of mine), Washington apples and a splash of Davinci fruit innovation syrup}.  His warmth of personality helped bouy the cause and for a man out of work, I want to extend an appeal to anyone in Columbus, OH  who might need a hard-working, socially gregarious personality to spearhead any social project or retail operation, to kindly consider hiring him – I would be happy to provide contact information on him.

An hour in, the volunteer watch changed and with it brought in Aubrey Touchman, whose 6’3 presence is hard to miss.  She quickly worked to keep my sign from buffetting in the wind and secured it (as I was riding to reach my goal of 4 hrs without going anywhere to raise awareness).  Time was moving quickly and the crowd was building around the Tour de Grandview.  Cyclist were warming up, as was the summer heat; the air thick and cloying.  I was surpised to find that the tea and the iced coffee were going quickly and I was already quite touched by the show of support from vendors like Raising Cane’s chicken (whose booth was right across from me the previous year and was diagonally down the way this year), the manager making a special stop by to offer me food and to give to the cause and spread his support and encouragement.  I was also pleased to be placed next to B1 bicycles as they are always awesome and Casey also gave to the cause and chased the heat with some iced tea. 

As the 3rd hour approached Megan Lynch and her hubby Chris took over the volunteer spot and with so much already happening with the men’s main cycling event, the dwindling coffee and tea supplies, and the impending rain, I owe much to them both for helping to chase down fliers and securing the table and the shelter against the growing wind and the darkening clouds.  They helped to stash the fliers, books, posters, everything and kept me company and helped to spread the word.  Megan was also kind enough to take my camera and score some of the photos on this entry, as I was quite stationary and wanted to show some of what makes the Tour de Grandview fun. 

The last hour and a half, the sky darkened and threatened rain, wind pushed on the stationary and knocked over fellow vendors signs, and many of the tents began to fold.  The cyclist furiously continued, pushing against the wind and ignoring the sky.  My father showed up at the last hour and with much of the tea and coffee gone, most of the display tucked away against the rain, and the umbrella down, the event seemed nearly over.  With 1/2 to go and no indications that more fundraising was going to happen (but sticking to my promise of 4 hours – that had been advertised graciously by the Columbus Dispatch newpaper in the life and arts section on Saturday June 26th 2010), an unexpected moment happened. 

A couple came up to my father and I, after having read about the event in the paper, and told thier story.  He had been recently diagnosed with ALS and she (as his partner) was in this as much as he was.  Its hard to express how important this is.  This connection between the community that is formed by the common fight to end this disease and no where is that more apparent than when the real warriors, the men & women who fight this disease everyday, find each other and share strength and support. 

Robert Blais is right *(father of the famous John Blais, the ALSwarrior poet, the man who redifined the fight against ALS with his completing the IronMan Triathelete event in Hawaii Kona in 2005 while fighting ALS – and without the full use of his hands)…..the real warriors are the people fighting this disease from the front lines – the people who have it and are at war, in a battle for thier future, for hope, for thier loved ones, and for thier life. 

We had a chance to tell each other our stories.  I had a chance to tell them about my mother’s fight; so did my dad.  We had a chance to share with them details about John Blais and his foundation, ALSTDI, the Central and Southern Ohio ALS chapter and the Iron Horse Challenge,  and to hand out literature that they could explore as they search for answers.  Moments like that is what all of this is all about, what makes it all worth it.  A chance to show that people are out there, that a community can care, that they are not alone, and a chance to put resources out there.  To give a voice to the fight and a face.  I would happily ride 4 hours everyday in that same way if it would allow for even one chance of meeting like that. 

In short I owe much to the community, my wonderful volunteers, the event itself for having me and supporting me, to my customers who listened and helped, and to the cycling community for keeping this event going.  The Grandview community helped me raise $200 for the cause and then the event doubled that with a generous gift; making this the best “without you, we go nowhere” ride to date!!!   I owe much to the Dispatch for posting the mention and leading that couple to the event (as well as a few others who had lost friends to the disease).  I owe John Blais and Carrie McCoy at JustTri for thier inspirational spin-a-thon for John Blais and giving me the idea for the “Without you, We go Nowhere” campaign.   I am so very grateful to all those who have shown support and who are continuing to take steps to find a cure.  We have more to go, but knowing you are out there and are willing to do MORE that Hope is life giving. 

Thank you!

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