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

Commitment (Day Eighty-Six)

We’re all only human after all. Each of us built with our flaws and reasons for being a little behind, being unable to meet deadlines and being a little slow, in general. Still, I’m worried about him. Never seen Kevin act this way. He’s sleeping in late; often unfocused, and what really caught my attention is his stopping throughout the day, during the ride, asking if anyone wants to catch a matinee. He’s second-guessing a lot of his decisions and is often paused in a state of paralysis, worried about whether or not he’d hurt someone’s feelings. I will continue to watch the situation, and of course let the right people know if it continues. Day Eighty-Six began as a rain-threatened day that was cool and cloudy, a few shades darker than overcast. Good to get on the road, as usual. We were agile, and we knew that there were a few milestones the day held for us. Also, and not to be a broken record, the intensity of our rapidly approaching moment of truth is making for a fever-pitched swell of action, both on and off the bikes. Seems like every single moment is taken, and it’s only our commitment as a team, and for the team, that keeps us positive and moving (quickly) in the same direction. Eighty-Six allowed us to get together and have some renewed focus on safety and purpose, as we all challenged each other throughout the day’s course to get better at everything we were doing. There’s a great team dynamic here, and it’s moving in the right direction. Much of the day was spent on Route 30, which is a traffic-light rich stretch of two and four lane highway that would take us straight into Valley Forge. The cool air had combined with the wet road to make the day one of the chilliest we’d seen on The Ride. It’s still summer on the East Coast, though, so it’s not like we were freezing. Even though a big part of stretch took us past strip malls and older areas, there were still scenic parts that showed, proudly, the sweeping countryside. Proud Pennsylvania Dutch heritage was abundant, and the acreages of farm land that we’d occasionally see showed a melding between old and new, as technology and the Amish way shared a characterization of the area. Horse and buggy shared the parking lot with the mini-van, and I wondered how that works, exactly. It’s great to imagine a world in which the mutual tolerance allows for this coexistence to happen without so much as an afterthought, at least from those that live in the community. I’ve been thinking a lot about commitment lately; it’s not a new concept, but it’s one that I’ve recently come to understand in a different way. Varying levels of commitment directly correlate to varying levels of success, I believe. What someone is willing to do to achieve a goal has a pretty big impact on the chances of reaching said goal. The more goals a person tries to achieve will surely dilute that same person’s efficiency in executing the tasks required for success. Being committed means being focused and determined to do what must be done, yes. Also, though, I believe that it’s about being resolved on what NOT to do and allowing for the greatness that comes from being focused and ‘in a zone’. It’s a beautiful thing to see this in action. As a team, it has been a certain level of commitment that’s gotten us this far, and it’s that same commitment that will see us through to the end.

It was fitting to have these thoughts racing through my head on Eighty-Six. While they had generated from a backdrop of ponderence on my own opportunities in the future, they were applicable to our mission and also influenced by some thoughts about my teammates on The Ride. So, as we pulled in for yet another history lesson upon arriving at our destination, it was an easy transition for me. Pulling into Valley Forge was not unlike many courses of The Ride; in fact, I’m pretty sure someone said it out loud, ‘it’s crazy how the landscape can change so fast; we were just among the strip malls, now look where we are!’. He was right; we were now in a forest, climbing and dropping while riding alongside a brook on one side and a thickly-forested hill on the other. There were trails criss-crossing on both sides, and the first signs of fall allowed for some colorful scenery. The fallen leaves were wet, and it would be weeks at minimum before they became the crunchy kind. To live in Valley Forge in February, 1777, would have required a certain level of commitment. It’s where the original commander-in-chief bunkered up for the winter, and the accommodations and provisions were not ideal. Basically, it was a critical strategic stronghold in the early parts of the ‘rebellion’ that would allow for our independence to be possible. Barefoot soldiers worked 18-hour shifts in the snow to make it work, and the hardship they endured is legendary. I know, I know, all the sudden I’ve become ‘history guy’. You would too, maybe, if you’d been along for this trip! At the day’s end, we had the opportunity to catch up with Blake Mitchell, a friend that we’d met in Seattle. Blake has recently moved back to the West Chester area of PA, where he grew up. He’s getting married in July, and he and his fiancé are a great example of the American Dream. They set some goals and together are moving toward them, and doing it as a team. They’re committed to each other’s success, and it’s great to hear him talk about their new home, dog and plans for the future. Great to have the support of the lacrosse community once again, as that’s exactly how we know Blake. Philadelphia is just a day away, and the opportunity to do great things is in front of us yet again. Glad that we’re feeling the way we’re feeling as a team. Oh…by the way…I was just kidding about that first paragraph about Kevin. It couldn’t be more opposite than the situation I described, and I’m just hoping that he doesn’t explode. The guy is intense, and he’s executing the plan beautifully and with unspeakable passion. In fact, I think that you might even be able to describe him as being committed.

For the Families of the Fallen…To the Limit!

Care Creates Community,

Matt Sauri