Here it is my first blog for the first annual UnityPoint St. Luke’s Ride for Miracles. Just to warn you, I am a construction manager by trade. I know planning, I know construction, and although I find myself very funny, I have been told by others that maybe I overestimate my own humorous abilities (mostly my son, who says all my jokes are dad jokes, ha!) So, let’s get into how I got involved with CMN and why I am riding for miracles.
I have been involved with CMN since about 2004 while I was working on construction of the new Neo Natal Intensive Care unit at St. Luke’s. Part of the planning process was to get to know the units surrounding the new NICU location. One of those units was the existing NICU on the floor below. I was able to tour the unit and got to learn a lot about what happens in the NICU. I learned about the equipment, the incredible (possibly superhuman) nurses and doctors and the precious lives they cared for. The babies in that unit were very small and delicate, sensitive to their environment around them, and all of them fighting every day, every minute for their lives.
When we were getting close to completing the project, I got to meet the staff of St. Luke’s Children’s Miracle Network (also possible superheroes, I think they have quite a lot of those at St. Luke’s.) I got to see what it was they did for the babies in the NICU, the kids in the Pediatric unit and for their families. They helped provide equipment and support for those delicate little lives, to help them fight for their health. They help support the families of those kids to help them through the difficult times. I was fortunate to have had two boys of my own at St. Luke’s, and knew how blessed me and my wife were that they were born healthy. After hearing and seeing what they do at CMN, and having two boys of my own that mean the world to me, I knew I wanted to be a part of CMN and help in any way I could.
A year and a half ago, Anne Holmes at CMN asks me to meet to discuss an exciting new idea. She shows me some photos of a bunch bikers from Georgia in dusters visiting the St. Luke’s NICU. They were a group (actually more like a family) called Scott’s Ride, they rode for 7 years and raised over a million dollars for their CMN hospital in Georgia. They would get on their bikes and ride for 3 weeks across the U.S., stopping at CMN hospitals along the way, spreading the stories of their CMN kids, and raising money to help those kids.
Anne met Scott while she was in Georgia and they became friends. When Anne moved back to Siouxland she and Scott talked about starting a ride at St. Luke’s. She knew that I rode and asked what I thought about St. Luke’s doing a ride, about me joining on to do the ride. I thought it was a great idea, I loved it, but I just didn’t think I could take 3 weeks off work, take 3 weeks away from my family. With 2 little boys at home, I just didn’t think I would be able to take that much time away from them. But, I told her that we should definitely move forward with this, this needed to happen.
We met a few times after that, thinking of ways to make the ride our own. We had many different ideas, different routes, different possibilities. Anne then showed me an idea of taking 2 weeks and traveling around the Great Lakes, and I loved it! It was about that time that Scott Ressmeyer and Ronnie Wilson came up from Georgia to Sioux City. I got to meet these amazing guys that did such amazing things for the kids in their community. I got to hear the stories of their CMN kids, of the ride, and of the things they were able to do for them. They were such an inspiration to listen to, to talk to. I went home that night after meeting them and was telling my wife Amy about all the things I heard earlier, about these two bikers from Georgia I met, and all the other amazing bikers they ride with. Told her about the amazing things they did. She looked at me, and told me, “you know you have to this, you will regret it if you are sitting here at home watching it and not being there.” And, you know what, she was right (she always is, but shhh, don’t tell her I said that!)
The next day, I stopped up to see Anne, and told her, I’m in! I wanted to ride to share the stories of our CMN kids. Ride to help raise money to buy equipment to help make the daily struggles of those kids in the NICU or in Pediatrics just a little easier. And you know what, once we started talking to others, I wasn’t the only one. We had three more generous riders that wanted to do the same. Jim Symons, Steve Panzer and Jon Heie all joined up to help ride for miracles, to help the kids in our community. I have been blessed to have met these 3 fellow riders, they are incredible guys with huge hearts. All of the Miracle Riders have made the commitment to make sure that every cent raised goes directly to help sick kids in the Siouxland community. All of the riders are paying for all of our own trip expenses, things like hotels, gas, tolls, maintenance/repairs, maple syrup (because you know, you can’t go to Canada and NOT have some fresh maple syrup!) So you know that whatever money you give to help, it all goes to help those kids, you can help the kids in their daily struggles to get healthy.
So, hopefully you are all still with me at this point and didn’t run off to YouTube to watch cat videos, and hopefully you will keep stopping back to www.MiracleRiders.com to follow us along on our journey and read more as we post blogs and photos of our experiences along the ride. Also, don’t forget to stop in and watch our live feeds during the trip, we will have a couple different cameras live streaming along the ride, so it’s like you are riding on the handlebars right along with us, only a little safer than actually riding on the handlebars!