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


Memories along the way

Rob Casalou’s daughter, Julie, who is volunteering for the WAM, had a chance to meet one of our Wish Kids. This is Olivia. Olivia’s wish was to publish her own book! And she did! Her book contains pictures and poems created by this wonderful little girl. She gave Julie a signed book for her to keep. 🙂

At lunch on Friday’s ride. Can you tell that Rosalie is the life of the party?? 🙂

Here is a nice pic of Jodi Talbott and Nick Graham. Jodi is an RN in the Ann Arbor ED.

Awesome pic by David Steinberg at the start of Day 2 with Rob Casalou in the foreground and a double rainbow as we headed into a storm. Good news is that it rained hard for only a couple miles with beautiful weather the rest of the day.

20140726-200741-72461197.jpgRob and Tom Mihalski holding each other up at a breakstop.

20140726-200831-72511935.jpgSunscreen is a must on the WAM as shown by Tom Mihalski.

20140726-200913-72553640.jpgNick and Jodi still smiling after two days on their first WAM.

20140726-200955-72595368.jpgRalph, Rosalie and Alex deep into Day 2. We are sad that the three of them will not be able to finish with us on Day 3 because of a family wedding tonight. So we told them to wear their Team Joe’s jerseys. The rest of us will wear the team colors tomorrow.

20140726-201030-72630259.jpgRo and Alex. It was great seeing Mom and son riding for wishes together.

Day 1 recap: Traverse City to Big Rapids

Ralph Dallier, Rob Casalou and Lee Benjamin enjoy a light moment. The jersey Rob is wearing that has a medal painted on the front, was designed by a wish child. It was an honor to wear it.

Day 1 Journal:

The day started early with Team Joe’s riders fed and ready to hit the road by 6:30am. Our actual departure time was 6:40am (waiting for a couple last minute stragglers) which set Rosalie Tocco-Bradley in motion because she wanted an “on-time start” (a hazard of her day job). But, with spirits high, the team set off from Traverse City.

Today was the day of hills and climbing. The total distance was about 99 miles our first day and it felt like 50 of them were on inclines varying from short bursts to long ones that burned the legs. A few were placed in cruel areas like the largest of the day at mile 90 – really? We all looked at it, said some things that Sister Yvonne would not approve, and dug in. The good news is that everyone survived, everyone was smiling and we were greeted at Ferris State by kids and families clapping us to the finish line. We then all headed to our respective hotels or tents because showers were wanted and NEEDED. Once again, the Make-A-Wish team provided everything we needed including a wonderful dinner. For the record, Ferris State has the BEST food.

As we wrap up day 1 most of us will be lights out very early to begin Day 2 even earlier. Tomorrow is our long day – 109 miles. The route has less hills so the challenge is distance. And our prize at the end of the day is the WHAMMY Awards after dinner in Dewitt where we celebrate the success of the event but, more importantly, we will be joined by many wish kids. In fact, we will be granting a wish at the WHAMMY’S this year – how special.

I am so blessed to be with some awesome Team Joe’s members along with 850 of our new friends all out here riding to grant wishes. I am proud and grateful of everyone on Team Joe’s. Have a good night all. More to come tomorrow.


Friends along our journey


Team is at lunch stop (at 10am no less). Rosalie Tocco-Bradley, her son Alex and Sheila Marcus (far left).

Bill Holmes and his sister Andy, who surprised Bill again this year by showing up at lunch.

Jodi Talbott, Nick Graham and Ralph Dallier.
Thankfully no one on Team Joe’s  has needed the services of our on course medics! Mile 78.  Getting there!

Why We Ride

20140724-235212-85932717.jpgTeam Joe’s members gathered early this morning at the MIS Speedway to
begin the the journey to Traverse City East Middle School that serves as
home base for the beginning of this year’s Wish-A-Mile (WAM) 3 day, 300
mile cycling tour. This year, we have 18 riders doing the 300 mile tour
and 2 doing the WAM 50 which takes place on Sunday. We have many new WAM riders this year and everyone is excited and nervous at the same time.
But, when we see why we are riding, for our wish kids, the emotions shift
to excitement and motivation.

We are riding to create wishes and Team Joe’s beat the goal of raising $50,000 that will support at least 6 wishes for Michigan kids in the coming year. Along with all the WAM riders, WAM will raise $2 million for wishes. This makes 300 miles seem like nothing.

After we arrived at the middle school, it was time to prepare the bikes
for the morning, get our bags and get organized. Some of our members
pitched tents at the middle school choosing to “rough it”. Some of us
reserved hotels and took a WAM shuttle to check in. Some of us stuck
around the school to participate in various orientation activities. I am
lucky that my daughter Julie is a WAM volunteer and I will see her
throughout the 3 days! Then, we all ate a high carb dinner and set off to
get some much needed rest.

We gather tomorrow morning for a 5:45am breakfast and a goal to hit the road by 6:30. Our first day is full of
hills and many think it is our hardest day of riding. Distance is 98.3 miles
the first day. Weather forecast looks excellent with the exception of a
strong crosswind that I hope becomes a tailwind on the second half of the

Thanks to all who have supported Team Joe’s with donations to one of our riders or to the team. We will be carrying you in our thoughts along the


Gearing Up for Action

The WAM riders have set up camp at Travers City East Middle School. Team Joe’s feels better knowing there are board-certified bike doctors along the way!


Here is Rob Casalou and his daughter, Julie, who is a WAM volunteer.


Some Team Joe’s members, like Mike Prisby from system office, decided to pitch tents for the night rather than a hotel. Here is Mike trying to figure out his tent (stick to Finance Mike!) LOL


A glimpse at over 800 bikes ready to roll tomorrow morning!!


Team Joe’s takes on the Michigan Wish-a-Mile

Team Joe’s is on its way north to the starting line of the 27th Wish-a-Mile 300 benefiting the Wish Kids of the Make a Wish Foundation. Throughout the three-day ride, CEO Rob Casalou and 17 Team Joe’s cyclists will post updates, photos and stories to this blog. They appreciate any words of encouragement and inspiration to push through the trek.

Here is the first post:

Team Joe’s is on it’s way to Traverse City!! The team gathered at MIS Speedway this morning and loaded on buses for the ride north. The weather is perfect and spirits are high. This year, 18 of us are riding the 3-day, 300 mile event and we have 2 riding the 50-mile event on Sunday.  We are close to our team goal of raising $50,000 to support our wish kids!!  We all say hi to all our friends and colleagues back at St. Joe’s.  Please send your prayers for good weather, a strong tailwind and for the safety of all the 850 riders who are riding for wishes.


(Above photo) Ready to Ride: A bus takes the team north to Midland for WAM. Pictured from left: Alex Bradley, Rosalie Tocco-Bradley, Ed Jones, Dave McNeil and Lee Benjamin.

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