Team Joe’s wound through another 100 miles of Michigan countryside to their rest stop. Rob shared thoughts from the road and the annual WHAMMY event:
Stage 2 started early with 4am wake up calls, breakfast by 5:30 a.m. and bikes on the road as early as 6:00. Getting out of bed in the morning and going out in the dark with a 50 degree temp is not easy but it wears off quickly once the sun is up and the blood is pumping. Today was the long day – 110 miles. For riding, many Team Joe’s members split up into groups of like riders. For me, I have had the pleasure of riding with Russ Olmsted, Lee Benjamin and Greg Hodder along with Wish Dad Bob who joined us for a second day. What an amazing person. He believes that he is healing being part of WAM and we made special mention of his late son, Cameron, at the awards program this evening. Hearing Bob and his son’s story grounds us as to why we ride.
We also had the special treat of being joined on Day 2 by David Williams, CEO of Make-A-Wish America, who decided to join us to celebrate the 30th anniversary of WAM. David is in good shape but not an experienced cyclist so we all wondered how this would go. He joined Team Joe’s and we took good care of him. Sheila Marcus and Tim Mervak stayed with David all day to make sure he had company. He rode all 110 miles and he got to meet many riders, wish kids and wish parents along the way. I could tell he was glad he made the decision to come by the end of the day. Now, I do wonder how he will feel in the morning with another 98 miles to go… J
The first 48 miles today was fast. We headed mostly south out of Big Rapids towards Greenville and we were booking some excellent speeds. After lunch, that was a different story. The winds picked up strong out of the north and northeast. We loved it when we heading south and died when we headed east so we took on those winds all afternoon. To say the least we couldn’t wait for it all to end! It did we all headed to our hotels to clean up and get back for the Wammy Award Program which is a highlight of the weekend.
The Wammy Awards are held in the auditorium of DeWitt High School and it is a packed house of all the riders, volunteers, staff, wish kids and wish parents who came out for the event. We hear wish stories, honor children and their families and we also granted a wish on stage! A young boy, Harrison, who has many medical and physical challenges, wanted to be able to ride a bike with his parents. Through the magic of Make-A-Wish and some awesome cycling shops, they constructed an adaptive bike that will allow Harrison to ride and stay safe and comfortable. He and his family were presented the bike at the Wammy’s. The Wammy’s were MC’d by a wish kid, Shawn, who had a wish to meet Jamie Diamond, CEO of Chase. Shawn was awesome and is an incoming freshman at UM in the Ross School of Business.
The night was filled with celebration and there were many awards given out to riders, teams and volunteers. We also recognized some supporters like the state troopers who stayed with us through the entire weekend, the American Red Cross Medics, Bike Mechanics, massage therapists and all the volunteers who staffed the schools, support and guidance vehicles (SAG) and the break stops. It was special for me personally that my daughter Julie volunteered once again on the school crew after taking a year off to ride the WAM with me last year.
Team Joe’s won the fundraising award for Large-sized teams and raised over $134,000 for Make-A-Wish. That was done through the generosity of all the family, friends and colleagues who supported us so…thank you!! And, we announced a record-setting grand total for WAM at $2,401,000! That is incredible and will go towards granting many wishes this coming year to Michigan children. This night puts the mission right in front of us and reminds us why we do this. As I sat there, I was reminded on how our own mission of being a transforming and healing presence in our communities completely supports what Make-A-Wish does for children and families. The Team Joe’s riders were definitely a transforming presence for WAM and for those who Make-A-Wish serves. I am so proud of our riders and for all 800 plus riders who are on this journey with us.
Ok, time to get ready for our last day tomorrow. We ride into MIS after our last 98 miles (making this a 307 mile tour just to be precise). But our sore bodies will be carried through by the excitement and emotion we know awaits us. Goodnight.
Wish Dad Bob, Russ,
Greg Hodder, Rob, and Lee Benjamin pose in front of the Ferris State Bulldog after finishing Day 1
Wish Dad Bob and Scott Dornbrock enjoy a rest at a break stop.
ER physicians Lee Benjamin and Greg Hodder know how to relax after a long ride!
Rob wears Snapchat glasses to catch more ride pics. Go to Make A Wish Michigan to see posts!
The scene at the mid-morning lunch stop.
David Steinberg, Chris, Jody and nick and Bethany Steinberg pause for a pic before hitting the road again.