Day Zero (just before Day 1)
It’s been a full day already, and it’s not noon! Mince and I had to leave the hotel at 5:30AM in order to be at Santa Rosa’s ‘Froggy’ 92.9 Radio Station. It’s a country station, and we agreed that we will probably know a lot more about country/western when this trip is done, due to the route. I think that there was a tune being sung by some poor guy whose girlfriend had stolen his pickup truck and his dog.
Anyway, we got to talk about our mission on the morning show. After some prodding, Kevin told a bit about his own story, but he mainly wanted to focus on our inspiration, Jesse Williams, during his part of the interview. Since Jesse was from Santa Rosa, and larger than life, we expect that many who knew him will have heard it and smiled.
The morning had come early, probably because last night went a little late. Herb Williams, Jesse’s dad, gathered 16 of us who are in one way or another involved with The Ride and also the Team Jesse Foundation. He hosted a dinner that was one for the books! In light of the menus that we’ll be seeing over the next three months (diners and taco stands, we think), it was not to be beaten. It was tough for the other fifteen guests to not get a little teary-eyed when Jesse’s widow, Sonia, described the last time she saw Jesse alive and how they both cried and couldn’t take their eyes off of each other. Also, she described the eerie premonition that they shared and was unfortunately to become true. We ended the evening with a toast and some Scotch, all of us aware that the kickoff was less than 24 hours away.
I’m writing this as Kevin and I have just returned from our last bit of pedaling prior to The Ride. It was a very easy jaunt, really, from a physical standpoint. We just wanted to do a final gear check so that we didn’t break a spoke in front of all the media attention tomorrow morning. For Kevin, though, this final ride was a lot tougher. We decided to ride to Jesse’s gravesite so that he could say hello to his friend privately and ahead of the well-attended departure ceremony tomorrow morning. I’ve not seen him so emotional since the day that he showed up at my house years ago having just gotten the news that Jesse had been killed in Iraq. With his hand on Jesse’s gravestone he spoke and told his friend that he was there, would always be there and we were going to do this for him. To say that I was touched would be the understatement of the year. To say that I was honored to be there, invited to stand by the side of such an admirable human being while he faced his pain and sorrow would be the understatement of the decade.
When his eyes dried and the steely purpose they carry had returned, he had just one thing to say, “Come on, Matty, let’s go. We’ve got work to do.” His resolve gave me chills. And, this summer, starting tomorrow with Day One, work we will.
Care Creates Community