By Bill Appleby
AngelRide starts earlier in the Appleby household then most.
As close friends to the co-founders of this amazing charity, we are honored to listen to new business ideas that only last week were scratched out on a napkin at a local restaurant or be asked for our opinions on new styles of apparel or special Rider gifts. (Caren, my wife is the Team Leader of Retail.) Those talks also begin the numerous trips to the “Pod” for inventory, organizing, cleanup, and to shovel the three feet of snow from in front of the pod doors!
Last year, in the months immediately following my retirement from the military, I planned a very selfish act: to hike the Appalachian Trail. I did this not to raise awareness or money for any number of charities we raise money for, such as AngelRide or Ed Dean’s Climb For A Child. I did it for me! But what I found was I missed my AngelRide Family as much as I missed my own Family. I missed training rides on Sunday mornings. I missed parking cars at Mystic on Friday night. I missed being the first face-to-face AngelRide Ambassador that meets first year and returning Riders with my special form of humor.
I missed escorting the first bus from Mystic to the hotel and first year Riders looking up to me for words of reassurance (like I’m an advanced rider….not!), or hearing returning riders, “So Bill, did you really get another helicopter this year for Sunday morning?” I miss waking up Saturday morning (did I sleep?), with my Volunteer duties done (well, almost) and becoming a Rider. I missed being part of one of the most amazing, positive, inspiring and challenging charities out there. I missed the people, the support, the organization, the planning, the adventure and the being at the Camp.
I missed seeing Angel and her Mom Ann (in her own special Ann way!). I missed riding with Dane, being greeted by Peter at Rest Stop #1, cool towels from Michelle at Rest Stop Four, beating Dan-Rider #1 and riding into Camp amidst all the shouts, cow bells and friends lining the front entrance. I missed stepping onto this magical, sacred place.
On Sunday, I missed standing shoulder to shoulder with my fellow comrades in arms as AngelRide recognizes the military Veterans in our ranks on this solemn of holiday weekends. I offered to help Lynn in whatever volunteer role she needed. But when I attended the Team Leader’s first meeting I realized that I had to ride. The small part I volunteer helps fill a void, but I am a rider, and a fundraiser, and an ambassador of all things AngelRide. I can’t deny myself of what AngelRide is or what AngelRide has made me. So this year I plan to go back to the Trail to finish what I could not last year.
But not until AFTER AngelRide.
So I will be back this year. I’ll get to as many training rides as possible. I will be again asking my friends, family and acquaintances to support me, so I can support AngelRide. And when all is done, I will hike right by the Start in Norfolk and remember how the hills of the Appalachians aren’t so bad, because I just did AngelRide 2015. Never Stop Climbing!