By Dave Gruendel
For the last 10 years, I have looked forward to AngelRide – the entire experience that is “AngelRide” – with enthusiasm, excitement, and energy.
For those of you are part of the AngelRide family, you know. For those who will take part for the first time this year, you will soon know.
One of my favorite moments is seeing new Riders both at Camp and in Mystic. Your smiles, priceless. By the time you reach the finish you will understand why the AngelRide is not just an event, it’ an experience. You may not be smiling hugely on some of the hills, but they are what make it all that much better! You’ll soon learn why I value what AngelRide and the people involved do for kids, how great the bike ride is, and why it is a significant part of who I am.
And now, all of it means even more for me.
A couple of weeks ago I was walking our dogs, Calvin and Hobbes, when one of my doctors’ called. I had a cyst removed from my left leg and was to have the stitches removed that same day. I didn’t think anything of it. Then the doctor came on the line and said it is cancer. After hanging up, I said aloud, “You have got to be (insert expletive) kidding me.” Of course, my mind raced, who to call first, what would happen next, would it all be okay? And then, no lie, one of the next conscious thoughts in my mind was that Camp and the AngelRide just took on a whole new level of meaning for my family and me.
My wife, Liz and I went to see the doc later that day. My head was spinning as he went over the type of cancer, the scans and tests that were needed, and that I would need surgery. I am glad that Liz was there, as she was taking copious notes, asking good questions, and being the rock that she is. After he was done, my Doc looked at me and asked if I had any questions. I looked him in the eye and, with all seriousness, said, “There is this bike ride that I do every May, would I be able to make it this year?”
It’s been an emotional roller coaster since then, but we have a much better sense of what it might be like for the families of the Campers when they are first told, why the folks at HOP are so important, and why the medical community is such a special group of people. I smile knowing that AngelRide, that we, have helped to make situations like these a little easier for so many families.
I know and understand in my head that my recovery may preclude me from riding this year, but in my heart, I am riding. I will be there on our weekend, to share and experience all of the awesomeness with all of you. It is, quite simply, the best weekend of the year and I would not miss it for the world. So, get ready to rock on again, AngelRide! Let’s do this!