Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Thank you for being there for Ryan's Ride

We had 667 children crossed the finish….all happy and smiling... with a few tears, of course. We heard stories on and on from children which I want to share with you all.

• “Mom, I came in 3rd but I passed many people”

• “My legs were so tired after the first lap because I started out in the back of the group and I pedaled so fast to move to the front.”

• “I came in first and I got a medal!”

• Then it was moments like a father pinning up a race number for the daughter; a parent watching the adult race with their son. It was truly a moment where families were engaging with one another.

• It was a celebration for a 5 year old to finish the whole lap on her training wheels for the first time as last year she only rode on the 200 meter dash. She was not the last one as the clown was following behind her. She struggled but was cheered by the audience as she rode toward the finish.

• An avid cyclist was beamed with joy as he saw his 8 year old being the first to cross the finish. It was a “Like Father, Like Son” moment. . It was a moment for this father to share the joy with his son of racing on a bike. The son has not stopped talking about training more so he is ready for next year’s Ryan’s Ride.

• Then, Matthew, our son and Ryan’s twin brother told me that this was his best Ryan’s Ride ever. He thought he strategically rode his best as he was coached by Jim Ochowicz while he was on riding. Jim was a two-time Olympic cyclist who also coached Lance Armstrong.

So much intensity went into the planning of the ride but at the end watching the smiles of these children champions is just priceless.

With the help of 225 volunteers, we created a safe, fun and memorable experience that these children will be remembered by for years to come.

Monday, June 15, 2009

6th Annual Ryan's Ride

We are in full mode planning Ryan’s Ride, six times around. The 6th annual Ryan’s Ride is around the corner again, on Sunday, June 28, 2009.

Matthew is now a happy and social 2nd grader. He enjoys playing with friends, riding his bike, hanging out with dad and has grown fond of whatever sports he is in for that season…lacrosse, baseball and soccer. The other night he was asking me if Ryan was alive whether they would be in the same class. So I told him that they would properly be separated because public schools generally separate twins. So Matthew said they would properly play together at recess and they would get along very well as brothers and would not fight like other siblings. Wondering the what-ifs is always a reminder that our family dynamic is not a norm. Ryan, Matthew’s brother and our son weaves into our family differently than like most families but he continues to be very present in our daily lives.

Six times around, I wonder if the children riders are still going to be excited about this ride. Would the parents be willing to bring their children to the ride on an early Sunday morning? Would the volunteers be willing to help out again year after year? How many first time families participating have never learned about the reason for Ryan’s Ride? I wake up in the middle of the night worrying about the planning of the event. At times, I feel the hard work is so worth it to see the excitement of hundreds of children champions. At other times, I remind myself sadly that the Ride exists because my son died.

Ryan’s Ride is the representation of a love that a mom and dad have for the child they have lost. And through that love, it has become a community event from the wonderful commitment of dedicated volunteers, and businesses, friends and family who continue to give their time on top of their everyday responsibilities. The success of the event represents Ryan’s spirit. To many, it is just another activity to do. To us, it is so very personal. Matthew’s answer to a homework assignment: What do you think makes a good community? His answer: “Things that make a good community is by helping each other, being nice to each other and sharing.” Perhaps Ryan’s Ride gives many of us the opportunity to do just that.

This year, due to the economic downturn, we have lost a couple of significant sponsorships this year. Our goal is to raise $50,000 this year. So far, we have close to $19,000 of corporate sponsorship. We hope to raise $10,000 from pledges and we hope to bridge the remaining difference through donations from friends and families. Your donations to the Lance Armstrong Foundation have resulted in providing support, information and services to cancer survivors. Through your support, Ryan’s legacy lives on providing wonderful memories for families and their kids with the simple joys we all have of riding a bike. We are also touched by the stories we hear of other children’s own stories of riding in honor or memory of a loved one who are and have faced life challenges.

Every dollar counts. Please help what you can.

We hope to see your children pedal along with Matthew at Ryan’s Ride, 6th time around on Sunday, June 28th. Thank you again for your continued support….it truly means so much to our family.