Getting out of bed for the last day of WAM is a feeling that words just don’t do justice. The body is tired (and likely sore in certain areas), it is dark outside (we typically get up around 4:30am) and the thought of putting your rear end back on the bike seat is the farthest thing from your mind. But you also have a feeling of excitement about what the day will bring – the finish and the Heroes Hurrah that celebrates our wish kids that completes our journey that began last Thursday morning. So, with all those feelings, Team Joe’s was ready to roll with some of our group hitting the road at 6am and some following at 6:30am. We were missing Rosalie, Ralph and Alex which was sad but they had a family wedding and family always comes first.
The Day 3 route is 93 miles mostly into the wind from Dewitt to Brooklyn (home of MIS) as we head south and zig zag through many narrow but flat back roads. We all managed to come together after our 9:30am lunch stop and ride the rest of way in together. We did hit a few hills around Brooklyn just to remind us and our legs that this wasn’t a totally easy day. We made good time through the day and ended up at MIS around 2pm ready to enter the track and ride our last mile on the MIS Speedway before crossing the finish line. We were joined by our two WAM50 riders, Jenny Cotton Pruitt and Mary Wherly. We paused at the Silent Mile which is a section of lawn outside MIS that was full of stars containing the faces and names of loved ones lost. I had the honor to pick two stars for members of our St. Joe’s family. One star was for Ryan Clark, son of Rory Clark and the other was for Maria Tocco Miller, sister of Rosalie Tocco-Bradley. To see their smiling faces greeting us was so up-lifting. After giving honor to loved ones lost, we entered the track and crossed to the applause and cheering of over two thousand people who were family members of riders, wish kids and staff. It brought a tear to many of our eyes and the hugs and high fives were abundant as it dawned on us what we had accomplished. The best was yet to come……
It was time to meet our adopted wish hero – Jessica H. All of us wore a bracelet with Jessica’s name for the entire ride. She was a delightful young lady who had just had her face painted like a Tiger. Jessica’s wish was to “swim with dolphins” and she got her wish last May. She is resilient and “one tough cookie” as her Mom described her. She suffers from SMA (spinal muscular atrophy) but she refuses to be defeated. Seeing her courage and determination made all us realize that 3 days and 300 miles on a bike was nothing. Jessica took photos with us and also gave each of us our own medal of accomplishment. The emotions were running high as this was truly the highlight of our WAM.
As I wrap up, let me thank all the members of Team Joe’s for agreeing to be part of this great event and this great cause. We rode for kids who have had their childhood stolen away by life threatening illnesses and families who have to watch their children go through some very difficult challenges. We rode and raised money to grant wishes to these amazing kids and I am proud that St. Joe’s and Team Joe’s supports these kids. We had many new members of Team Joe’s along for their first ride. I know each came on with much apprehension and each wondering if they could actually ride the 300 or the 50 miles and now they know they can! In fact, my money is on them all coming back.
That is a wrap for WAM2014. Thanks to all of you who supported Team Joe’s with donations, prayers and support.
In good health,
President & CEO
St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor & Livingston
Team Joe’s Captain