Day 12, the final day of the Ride for Miracles for Children’s Miracle Network started in Des Moines and had us heading home! We made a stop in Ames to eat at Hickory Parks, got to meet and talk with the owner, David Wheelock, who after lunch surprised us with a check for $100. I know I have mentioned this in other blogs, but I am amazed everyday on the trip of the generosity of people. It seemed like every person we met and talked to have had a loved one that has been touched by CMN. We heard as many stories as we shared and were able to connect and bond with strangers thousands of miles away, because we all cared, because we all knew what it was like to have a child in our life that needed a little extra help.
As tough as it has been to ride for 4,000 miles and 12 days through 2 countries, 9 states, one tense night in moose crossing territory, 5 different rainstorms and one thunderstorm, I think the hardest challenge of the journey, was missing my family. I had a picture taped to the dash of the bike, and it helped me in a lot of different days. It reminded me of why I am riding, to help families that just want their kids to be healthy so they can be home with them. It helped me when I missed them, I always had a happy picture to help cheer me up. And it kept me safe and focused, reminding me that I have people at home that love me and want me to get back safe.
I gotta say, the last day was an emotional day, so happy to be heading home, but sad that the journey is over. Absolutely ecstatic to see our families, but sad to say goodbye to our friends, no, not just friends, our brothers. We all had expanded our families the last two weeks, the riders had new brothers, the wives and girlfriends all had new sisters. Speaking of our wives and girlfriends, if it wasn’t for their support at home, if it wasn’t for their strength to take care of the kids and everything else while missing us, we wouldn’t have been able to have the strength to stay out there and focus on our goal. So I just want to say a huge thank you to them, they did an awesome job and deserve as much credit for the success of the ride as we do.
As for us guys out on the road, the brotherhood, the camaraderie, the bond that us riders formed on the ride will last forever. We struggled through some dangerous night driving, got soaked in a rainstorm together, and had white knuckle drives through Chicago traffic in a thunderstorm. But, at the end of the day, we made it through safe, with each other's support and help. We took care of each other, we joked with each other, we laughed at each other and we were all thankful to make it through safe.
We all had different reasons for why we rode, what drove us, what got us through the tough times, but we all had the same end goal, share the stories of our CMN kids and raise money to buy equipment to help them fight for their health and their lives. We cannot fight those battles for them, but we can sure try and give them an upper hand in that fight, be their guy in the corner supporting them and giving them the equipment they need to make that fight easier for them, and get them home with their families as soon as possible.
The return home ceremony was amazing, what a feeling to ride in and see all that support waiting to welcome us home. We got through the ride safely and made it home, we also raised over $22,000 on our first year of the ride. That is all thanks to our sponsors and everyone that donated, everyone that bought a shirt, or a bracelet, anyone that stopped down to the Guest Bartender Nights, anyone that started a raffle for us or even just shared our posts. I am just completely astonished by the support of everyone in Siouxland, it is truly heartwarming to see everyone come together to support this great cause.
Well, hopefully you all enjoyed following our journey, I know we all can’t wait for next year. Keep checking back to the website, we will make some announcements throughout the year, I will probably post up a few blogs, some pictures here and there. So keep your eyes peeled and keep watching the St. Luke’s CMN Facebook and Twitter pages for updates. We will also be announcing our 2017 route and dates sometime in early November.
Don’t forget, we are still closing out the 2016 Ride for Miracles, so if you forgot to donate earlier, you can still go the website to donate. If you or your employer would like to be a sponsor for 2017, please let us know, we are always looking for more companies that want to support CMN.
Thank you again for following along and putting up with my daily ramblings, we will see you all next year!