Sunday, June 24, 2007

4th Annual Ryan's Ride

As we experienced another year of Ryan’s Ride, I have realized how far life has changed for me. With the additional help from Misa and Carmen with the pre-planning, we were getting the planning down to near science. For me, it was the most relaxing week among the past four years leading up to the event. I have learned a quote from a friend, “Failure to plan is planning to fail”. So I tried to plan to the minute details.

We have dedicated this year’s Ride to Ryan and to Cooper Jones, whom we have never met. Cooper would have been 23 and he passed away ten years ago doing what he loved. Cooper’s parents Martha and David flew in from Spokane to help us at Ryan’s Ride. It was their way of honoring Cooper whom they missed for ten years. They celebrated their son’s anniversary watching hundreds of children doing what their son loved. Our other highlight was to have Ron from the Lance Armstrong Foundation flying in from Austin experiencing the event. Ron volunteered for the whole weekend. Ron works at LAF, a nationally established non-profit foundation but his visit endorsed LAF’s mission - survivorship. He supported us emotionally at this event making our family feel so valued to be part of the foundation we have been associated with for a decade.

Then there are many other stories… a boy riding in memory of his grandma, a two year old girl riding in memory of her identical twin sister just passed away to cancer a few months ago, a girl riding in memory of her 2 year old brother, a boy trained to have his training wheels removed for this Ride. I think as humans, we all have our stories and through these stories, we are all somehow connected….these connections are the power of the human spirits.

Each year, John and I as hosts worried about parents feeling stressed about the craze. But I told John: “The Ride is not about the parents. It is an experience to the children on the course. When I saw Matthew came across the finish with such determination, I knew I would be like many of you waking up early on a Sunday morning, packing the kids and bikes, circling around to look for parking at the event. That joy and determination of our children makes this Ride well worth the hoopla.”

As for me, watching the children riding placed me in the presence of their joy…or as Matthew’s mom, his joy. This year the focus was less about feeling Ryan’s presence but more about the presence of the children at the event. Then I feel the power of giving. If Ryan is still here, there would not have been a Ryan’s Ride planned by our family. It is truly the spirit of human survivorship, hope and giving.