Thursday, September 26, 2013

A Community Effort

St. Anthony - August 17th

After speaking at 4 local churches and trekking across Illinois in just three days, I made my way into Indiana.  Days seemed to pass by just as miles passed by on the open road. Riding seemed effortless at this point, and the roads where becoming familiar again.  I could sense the end of my journey getting near, but I tried to stay focused on the task at hand. I didn't want to worry too much about the big finish or reflect too heavily on my previous rides. Instead, it was important for me to appreciate the current moment and stay active in my present rides. It was this attention to detail and  the present moment that allowed me to finish strong. I was covering long distances in less time, and I felt like I was exerting less energy than every before. At the beginning of the ride I was huffing and puffing my way up and over hills, but now I had enough energy to whistle as I powered through straight aways. I felt like I was on a mission and nothing could stop me in my quest to spread awareness. There was an unbelievable feeling of enthusiasm that motivated me, and I wanted to share this emotion with anyone I came in contact with. I arrived in St. Anthony, and I knew this would be a great opportunity to share the message of Support My School with a large number of people. The local fire department was putting on a chicken dinner fund-raiser and the entire community came together to show their support. There was live music, dancing, and some of the finest fried chicken I have ever tasted. I sat down to eat with a group of strangers and it wasn't long before I was telling my bicycle story. Little did I know, I was sitting with the Fire chief's wife. The chief's wife was very excited to hear about my cross country journey and she wanted everyone at the event to learn about our cause. Before I knew it, I found myself up on stage giving a presentation to over 200 people. I discussed the impact that Support My School was making in India and I commented on how it was similar to the community effort in St. Anthony. In both cases neighbors came together to support a cause that would benefit the entire community. In rural India people came together to provide basic amenities such as clean drinking water and public restrooms. In St. Anthony's people came together to support the fire department and raise money for a new safety training program. After my talk, the crowd responded with a great roar! The band picked up again and people rushed over to talk with me. Even though I was just passing through, the people of St. Anthony made me feel very welcome, and we were connected by our common interest to improve local communities.