The Team Jesse Foundation
Mission: To provide education and support for families of fallen soldiers in honor of SSG Jesse Williams


Mission: To provide education and support to families of fallen soldiers in honor of SSG Jesse Williams

Take Good Care (Day Thirty-Five)

So, last evening I had the distinction of being the only Team Jesse Foundation Road Team member that had a room to himself.  Karen and Ron Mincio (AKA Mama and Papa Bear) have been married for 44 years, so they tend to bunk up.  The media /documentary crew are running three deep these days (and are currently over-delivering in terms of creativity and research, etc) and have a barracks-style arrangement when we pull into towns.  And, of course, Mince had his pet cockroaches.  What is a little disturbing, though, is how he treats his ‘pets’.  I never saw him treat his whippets that way, which is good, especially for the whippets.

Yesterday’s course was straight and flat.  It was a mere 51 miles, and the temperatures only got to 100 degrees, which is actually quite a bit different than 111.  It was downright cool.  It’s nice to have a few shorter days, as we have two century (100+ miles) rides this week.  Good for the sanity to just get up, knock out the miles, and plan for the things that we’re here to do.  So, we have some very productive conversations on the way to Iola.  Mainly, we talked about some of the upcoming events.  St. Louis is going to be a barn-burner and Annapolis is coming fast as well. If Kansas has shown us anything, it’s that the power of community is something to behold.  Never thought we’d see so many people rally behind us, and in doing so get to know each other.  It’s humbling and it gives us something to live up to. 

When we got to Iola, we were received by a ‘quadfecta’ (bear with me, I just made this word up.  It supposed to be ‘trifecta plus one’.  You likey?).  The four entities were:  A) Police , including the Chief of Police, B) Fire Department, including the Fire Chief, C) Bikers (not cyclists, bikers) D) National Guard.  This marked the first time that we had been greeted by military personnel, and it was really something.  It meant a ton to Kevin, and they knew his story a bit prior to our arrival.  We were greeted at the Armory, and sat down.  Also, the media was there along with the City Manager.   We set up a press-conference style discussion, and we were allowed to tell our story and then answer question s about The Ride, our Cause, and Kevin’s experience being in Manhattan on 9/11, just a block from the towers.  They fed us like kings and sent us on our way, though Kevin would later return to the fire station to hang out.

When he got back, we opened a package that had been waiting for us.  I must first clarify and remind you that it’s HOT out here.  And, a great way to cool off would be to jump in any of the great lakes, streams, rivers, etc along the way.  The problem is that to just jump in wearing cycling gear, especially when you have to get back on the bike, is going to…us…cause problems down the road.  In fact, it would cause problems just around the corner, if you know what I mean.  The other option would be to bring a pair of trunks, but it would be cumbersome and bulky.  We try to cut excess every chance we get.  ‘Ounces equal pounds’ is one of Mince’s favorite sayings, and even the SAG vehicle has to be tidy.  Have you ever seen ‘Meet the Parents’?  Sometimes Kevin reminds me of Jack Burns (Robert De Niro’s character.).  I’m in for it when he reads this, btw!  Anyway, with the need to dunk into the water being there and a ‘bare-pickle’ approach simply out of the question, we have decided upon….SPEEDO’s.  In fact, they’re not even Speedo’s.  They’re a water polo brand called Turbo, and we were inspired by Adam Hughes when we were down at the Miami Invitational Lacrosse Tournament.  Only difference is that, Kevin  and I are half kidding and just trying to keep cool, while Hughesey is serious.  He just likes to wear briefs.  In public.  We have agreed to a photo blackout of this, which made the decision possible.  But, it’s funny enough, I thought, to let you know about it.

Later in the afternoon, I received a visit from Richard Gilliland, one of the bikers who had escorted us into town.  He showed up with a serious look in his eye and apologized for bugging me.  I told him that it was absurd that he would think that he was bugging me, and he let me know that he felt that what we were doing was beyond important, and he had brought some keepsakes with him that he wanted us to attach to our bikes for good luck.  Weighing next to nothing, there would be zero ‘ounces equal pounds’ conversation about this, but instead an opportunity for us to receive the good wishes of a very sincere person who just wanted us to be safe and successful.  We would later find out  that Richard is  a retired EMT/Fireman, and he has seen a lot in his day.  He had gone all the way home, thought about it, collected some things that meant something to him and returned to share them with us.  We’ll rock them proudly, Richard, and as I promised you:  yes, Safety First.  Thanks for caring…

Kevin spoke with the father of a fallen Marine last evening; he had reached out to him because we learned some interesting things about this hero, and Kevin wanted to ask permission to visit his gravesite and honor him.  What really struck me was Mince’s preparation for this call.  I’ve never seen him so wrought in compassion while being so flawlessly  prepared.   We will be meeting some city officials upon our arrival in Ottowa KS and then going to a War Memorial to say a few words and meet the family of the soldier.  This is the single most important thing we’ve done, and we’re as prepared as we can be. 

After the preparation, we went to blow off a little steam  at The Monkey Butt Saloon, which is a great little place just a few blocks from our motel (yes, motels, not hotels).   While there, the Media Crew put their cameras away, and we had some much deserved laughter.  Pool was played, jokes were told and cheer was achieved.  Halfway through the evening, I got some great news regarding a lacrosse team that I’m fielding in October.  It sure is all about the people! 

I have to say it was a good day.  Tomorrow, though, comes purpose.  I can’t wait to see you. 

 For the Families of the Fallen…To the Limit!

 Care Creates Community,

Matt Sauri

RideMatt S