Everyone Can Make A Difference!

Posted: February 3, 2012 in Uncategorized

I want to share an amazing experience that I had when Rider was only 3 years old.  It was the day before the 2004 Boston Marathon and he said to me, “Dad, I want to learn to ride my bike today!”  Up to that point, Rider had always refused to ride his bike with training wheels, but he rode a Razor scooter from the time he was about 18 months old.  It was so remarkable to see him pushing with those little legs and racing his scooter around our neighborhood; people used to stop and ask how old he was.

So, we got out his two-wheeler, went into our back yard and I simply gave him a push and he rode across the yard like he had been riding forever.  When he made it to the other side of the yard he stopped, turned around and proclaimed, “I want to do that again!” 

Lori was taking care of the horses at the barn and when she returned home she was amazed to see Rider come from behind the deck, riding his bike all by himself.  Shortly after that he said to us, “I want to ride my bike to raise money for kids with cancer.”  That statement was so awe-inspiring because we realized that he was paying attention to what we were doing as Team In Training coaches, and he was also influenced by our runners.

We had taken Rider to training with us before he was even a week old.  So he spent every Saturday of his life around people who were extremely charitable.  I had heard the adage, ‘It takes a village to raise a child’ many times before but now I was witnessing just how true that was.  Our TEAM of runners at Team In Training certainly influenced him and he clearly adopted their commitment and mindset.

So Lori found a Pan Mass Challenge for Kids event in Upton that was scheduled for two months later.  Lori and I have both lost parents to cancer so she made Rider a shirt that said, “In Memory of Grandma and Grandpa” so he could wear it on the ride. 

Rider then dictated a fundraising letter to Lori and sent it to our closest friends and family.  He raised over $400 for his first time!

When we arrived at the Pan Mass Challenge For Kids event, Rider was clearly the smallest participant.  There were kids several years older who were still riding with training wheels.  I began to realize how unique and special Rider is.  I mentioned to Lori that I would run beside him during the ride.  Afterall, I was a marathoner and he was only 3 years old.  How far could he actually ride on such a small bike anyway?  I didn’t have to wait long for my answer.

Once the ride started, he was gone.  I couldn’t believe it and I was in a state of panic.  He had never been out of our sight and suddenly he was consumed by this flood of riders.   I was cutting through yards and taking every conceivable short cut to catch up with him.  After what seemed like hours, I finally caught a glimpse of him.  I quickly sprinted up to him, and saw him at a water stop, bicycle laying on its side.  He was consuming a packet of Skittles with the biggest smile on his face.  He was so full of life and enjoying every minute of it- especially the Skittles (which he NEVER got to eat at home)!

Rider ended up riding 12 miles on an extremely difficult and hilly course with the temperatures soaring through the 90’s.  Even today, after training thousands of charity runners and witnessing selflessness and giving beyond comprehension, Rider’s commitment to raising money for kids with cancer still ranks at the top.

His example has proven to me that ANYONE can make a significant difference in the world if they have the desire and belief.  He has inspired me to do more than I ever imagined.  I hope that this story will inspire you to adopt his commitment and belief that YOU can make a difference too.

I love you Rider!

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