I just discovered the best way reach a 70-year-old guy riding his bike 2,000 miles down the west coast to raise $1,000,000. Pick up the phone and call his cell number! I was shocked when I heard a couple of ring tones and then a live voice on the other end of the line. “Bob Lee”, he answered, as though he was right down the street. And then I heard voices and laughter in the background and I knew I had called just in the nick of time. Three guests riders joined Bob on his journey for five days this past week, including the man in charge of mapping Bob’s ride and two Barrington women behind the causes he’s riding for.
American Cancer Society Medal of Honor recipient, Kim Duchossois, and Northeast Illinois Hospice & Palliative Care Vice President of Development, Beth Raseman, are physically fit, but they’re not avid bike riders. Despite the physical challenges and not long before Bob’s departure, Kim and Beth decided to join him, riding down the Oregon coast into California for five days of his journey.
They pedaled alongside Bob this past week for about 160 miles of his ride, sharing winding roads with intimidating traffic and pushing their limits, and their bikes, up incredibly steep inclines and down “screaming descents” to the backdrop of breathtaking coastal scenery.
I called to find out how Kim and Beth fared, what they learned and whether they’d do it again. And I could hear Bob smiling when said,…
“Here’s two gals that really haven’t been bikers. But they committed and trained and came out here to blow some of these hills away. And some of the hills have blown them away. It’s been fun and a good experience and it’s sad to see them go.”
I asked Bob if I could talk to his traveling companions and he first handed the phone to Kim who summed up the experience by telling me this: “I was nervous for this. I work out, but I am not a cyclist and I did this with much trepidation because I didn’t want to burden Bob or break his rhythm in any way, yet I wanted to physically observe.”
“We happened to pick a good week that would not be over the top in terms of difficulty, except for yesterday. Both Beth and I got three miles into the ride and had to stop because the climb was so intense.”
“Going up this ascent yesterday, when I was literally down on the pavement at one point, somebody honked at me as if I was in their way. And I realized that the hills that Bob climbs are really metaphors for the lives of the people he’s out there to benefit.”
So far, Bob’s supporters have donated about $550,000 in this quest to raise $1,000,000 to fund programs for people facing cancer, ALS and Hospice end-of-life care. Both Kim and Beth have played a huge role in helping Bob raise these funds. But Kim says riding along with Bob, who is a cancer survivor, helped put the mission in perspective.
“Every day of this ride, we’d reflect on the people in our lives who have been touched with these physical challenges and it made our fear and the difficulty of riding with Bob diminish. People from all over the country who represent these three causes are coming out to greet Bob, to cheer him on and to thank him for what he’s doing.”
“This has been an enormous challenge and I’m just overwhelmed with the power of what this is about. To support this collaborative effort is one of the most important things we can do.”
And Beth Raseman reinforced that message the minute Kim handed her the phone. “Bob has people following him all over the place. Along this ride, he never stops talking to people about what he’s doing and why he’s doing it. He says he’s a pedaler, but he’s a whole lot more than a pedaler, he’s a powerhouse!”
“He’s averaging 50 miles a day and some of these climbs are like 1,000 feet, but they’re really steep grades and really strenuous, and he has some coming up that are 2,000 feet.”
“When you’re out here with him riding and you see the days that are being put in, it’s just an incredible commitment. And, trying to go up some of these hills, you can’t help but think of the people you’re riding for and the people you’ve lost or those we’ve cared for at Hospice and it humbles you.”
Before we ended the call, I had to ask Beth if there’s anything else we can be doing back at home to help. She reminded me of Bob’s recent blog post about the story of the starfish (see below) and she said, “You sometimes wonder whether your contribution really makes a difference.”
“The project Hospice is working on with the money Bob is raising is an advanced care planning project to get people to put plans in place before they have a crisis. I can tell you, because of the stories we hear and the people we see at Hospice who are so grateful, that it all starts with each person trying to make a small difference.”
“It’s easy to get complacent by reading and feeling you’re part of it just by following it, but to really help Bob reach this goal, he needs donations from those willing to pay it forward to help other people.”
Kim, Beth and Ride for 3 Reasons’ “Sherpa” and route mapper, Steve Block, left Bob on Friday to head back home to Barrington. To read their personal accounts of the ride with Bob, CLICK HERE to read Kim’s blog post called Staying Upright, Pedaling Steady and Keeping Out of Harms Way, CLICK HERE to read Beth’s blog post called Like We Got Dropped Into a Magical Adventure and CLICK HERE to read Steve Block’s blog post called This Ride has been Temporarily Interrupted by a History Lesson.
Bob still has another 1,000 miles to go on this ride before he reaches his destination in Mexico. And he still has much ground to cover to reach his $1,000,000 fundraising goal. To follow Bob’s blog updates about his ride, to view his beautiful photographs and to make a contribution, visit 3Reaons.org.
The Starfish – Author Unknown
Once upon a time there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work. One day he was walking along the shore. As he looked down the beach, he saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself to think of someone who would dance to the day. So he began to walk faster to catch up. As he got closer, he saw that it was a young man and the young man wasn’t dancing, but instead he was reaching down to the shore, picking up something and very gently throwing it into the ocean.
As he got closer he called out, “Good morning! What are you doing?” The young man paused, looked up and replied, “Throwing starfish in the ocean.”
“I guess I should have asked, why are you throwing
starfish in the ocean?”
“The sun is up, and the tide is going out, and if I don’t
throw them in they’ll die.”
“But, young man, don’t you realize that there are miles and miles of beach, and starfish all along it. You can’t possibly make a difference!”
The young man listened politely. Then bent down, picked up another starfish and threw it into the sea, past the breaking waves and said, “It made a difference for that one.”