Team Joe’s Rides Again for Wish Heroes

Ride along with SJMHS President and CEO Rob Casalou and 59 other riders of Team Joe’s as they traverse 300 miles of Michigan countryside in the 2016 Wish a Mile.  Rob and the team will be posting summaries, pics and live video during their three-day journey from July 28-30. Catch the action on this blog and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Rob’s first entry:

Our travel day up north for the WAM started this morning.  We have 46 riders from Team Joe’s doing the 3-day, 300 mile your and 16 riders from Team Joe’s doing the 50 mile ride on Sunday.

It is extra special for me having my daughter Julie riding with me this year. Also, we have many new riders on Team Joe’s, including several from Probility that are in the large group shot. The other pics show the amount of organization needed to move 850 riders from MIS to Traverse City!

WAMtour15 – The Final Stretch

7:50 AM – Team Joe’s got a quick jump on the route and rolled into Mile 25 break stop in no time. Here some of the gang is enjoying a relaxing moment as we refuel. Looking forward to our lunch stop today put on by St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea Hospital at Stockbridge High School!
 Team Joe’s fueling up before starting our 3rd and final day. Looking froward to a great day and finish at MIS. Wheels on the road in 15 minutes.

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Day 2 Recap: Let’s Ride

  Like Friday, this morning started nicely with a nice breakfast with the team (Ferris State has the most awesome food service) and then we hit the road promptly at 6:20 a.m. with cool temps and mild winds.

 My how that changed as the day moved on! It wasn’t long before Team Joe’s was facing some headwinds and heat. We hit our lunch stop at 9:30 a.m. (yes, but believe me we were hungry) and then went after the much tougher second half of the ride. For me, things were fine until the last 10 miles of our 109 mile day largely because I didn’t fuel up properly during the ride. Don’t tell Lisa McDowell but I chugged down some major Pepsi on this trip in order to get a quick sugar hit. Of course, our new Wellness Coordinator, Paige, reminded me that better nutrition was available.
Continue reading “Day 2 Recap: Let’s Ride”

 WAMtour15 – Behind the Handlebars Again

Team Joe’s was up and on the road early this morning starting with a hearty breakfast and then wheels on the road by 6:20 a.m. Nice cool morning and no rain – yet! Now at the Mile 14 break stop and feeling great. Lee Benjamin decides that his bike can dual as a chair! 😄

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WAM15 – Team Joe’s Cruises Through First 100 Miles

What a spectacular day. You could not have ordered better weather for our 6:20 a.m. start out of Traverse City this morning. The temps were mild, the breeze was gentle and our team was geeked. Everyone was anxious to get going so we took off early.

And for the first half of the ride heading into our 9:10 a.m. lunch, we cruised. We have many strong riders who kept the pace brisk. 

Now, the second half of the ride was a bit different. The temps came up into the mid-80’s, the sun was shining strong the winds picked up several MPH. Said another way….it was a much tougher second half.

The first day is our day of hills and they can, with the help of the heat, wear us out and they did! As we rolled into Big Rapids in the early afternoon, most of our team scattered to get bags and shuttles, get to the hotels, take a shower and even nap before dinner. For the day, we rode almost exactly 100 miles with over 3,000 ft of climbing….not bad.
Continue reading “WAM15 – Team Joe’s Cruises Through First 100 Miles”

Team Joe’s Preps for 2015 Wish-a-Mile

IMG_0008On July 23, Team Joe’s traveled north by bus to the starting line of the Wish-a-Mile 300 benefiting the Wish Kids of the Make a Wish Foundation. Throughout the three-day ride, CEO Rob Casalou and 18 Team Joe’s cyclists will post updates, photos and stories to this blog. On Sunday, they will be joined by 19 additional 50-mile riders from Saint Joseph Mercy Health System.

Join their ride! Words of encouragement will help them push through the pain and exhaustion of the ride.  Post your thoughts here and on our Facebook and Twitter pages. 

Here is the first post:

We didn’t push the pedals today but it was a great day just the same as Team Joe’s spent the day en route from the MIS Speedway to Traverse City in preparation for the start of the Wish-A-Mile (WAM) 2015 on Friday.  The air was full of energy and excitement as over 800 riders, including 19 from Team Joe’s, arrived in the early morning at MIS Speedway to check-in and load bikes and bags on buses and head north.

This year, we have 8 new riders on Team Joe’s doing the 3-day, 300 mile ride and and equal number of new riders on the WAM 50 on Sunday.  Our team is growing!   After arriving at the East Traverse Middle School at 3 p.m., we retrieved our bikes and bags and set up for the evening.  It is an IMG_0006amazing scene to see 800 bikes lining fences and fields around the middle school.  Some riders pitch tents, some throw sleeping bags on the gym and hallway floors but most take a shuttle to one of several area hotels.  Once organized, we returned to the school for dinner, an ice cream social and many fun activities.  It is a time to relax and enjoy new friends who we will become very close to over the next 3 days.  We were also blessed to have three of our wish kids with us during dinner.   Once you meet these kids and their families, you truly understand why we do this ride….it is for them.

IMG_0020After the festivities, it was back to our hotels to get ready for a very early morning.  Our plan is to get over to the school for breakfast at 5:30 a.m. and have wheels on the road by 6:15 a.m.  Weather looks great for tomorrow.  We hope to get most of the ride behind us before it gets hot in the afternoon.  The only problem is 100 miles hills and valleys, a projected head wind and 3,000+ feet of climbing.  No problem! 🙂

Good night,


IMG_0010 IMG_0001 IMG_0011 IMG_0002 IMG_0018 IMG_0017 IMG_0015

Thank you, riders!

We at Saint Joseph Mercy Health System are proud of the cyclists of Team Joe’s who completed the Wish-a-Mile challenge.  This year’s riders were –

Rosalie Tocco-Bradley, MD
Alex Bradley
Lee Benjamin, MD
Rob Casalou
Ralph Dillier
Nick Graham
Bill Holmes
Ed Jones
Dave McNeil
Sheila Marcus, MD
Tim Mervak, MD
Tom Mihalski
Russ Olmsted
Mike Prisby
Jenny Cotton Pruitt (WAM 50)
Jon Ricard
Scott Sapita
David Steinberg, MD
Jodi Talbott
Rob Urbanowicz
Jenny Mary Wehrly (WAM 50)


Team Joe’s all smiles at close of 2014 Wish-a-Mile

Team Joe's hung together all day as we headed into MIS.  Sure made taking pictures easier!  More importantly, we could soak up the beauty of our last day.
Team Joe’s hung together all day as we headed into MIS. Sure made taking pictures easier! More importantly, we could soak up the beauty of our last day.

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.

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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,

Rob Casalou
President & CEO
St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor & Livingston
Team Joe’s Captain