By Michael Pfarr
I embarked on my first AngelRide expecting nothing more than a typical charity ride. What I got, instead, was a truly life-changing experience.
Why are you doing this? Why did you decide to spend Memorial Day weekend on your bicycle? Wouldn’t it have been easier to just make a donation?
If you’re like me (and I suspect many of you are), you’ve asked yourself these questions before. More often than not, these questions work their way into my thoughts while on my bike, whether it be a tough training ride or any of the hills along the route. It doesn’t take too long for me to remind myself why I’m doing this…
I signed up for my first AngelRide for purely selfish reasons. Sure, I thought that it was a noble and worthy cause but, to be quite honest, I didn’t know much about Camp and definitely didn’t know about HOP. All that I knew about AngelRide is that it was a challenging ride. I registered for the ride to do just that, challenge myself. I embarked on my first AngelRide expecting nothing more than a typical charity ride. What I got, instead, was a truly life-changing experience. I had a chance to meet campers and their families. I got to tour Camp and hear stories about the different kind of healing. I met many of the amazing people that make this ride happen. I learned that this is nothing like a typical charity ride…this is a community, a family, a way of life.
I signed up for my second, and then third AngelRides because there is nothing that I would rather do on Memorial Day Weekend than get together with this fantastic group of people and make a difference in the life of a child. There’s nothing better than giving back to your community, especially to children, and making friends and family along the way. From the other riders to the moto crew to route volunteers to vendor support, there are friendly faces all weekend long with great stories and experiences to tell. And each year I’ve come back, I’ve seen some of the same faces, caught up with them through their stories, and made some new friends that I look forward to seeing this year.
This year, however, it takes a bit of a deeper meaning. In August of last year, I found myself at CT Children’s Medical Center with my son. Though my experience was brief, I was able to gain an understanding of what these children and their parents go through on a daily, weekly and sometimes monthly basis. My wife and I watched a group of girls turn the hallways of the floor into their very own Nascar track (one of whom had her mother in tow pushing her IV stand). Seeing the smiles on their faces and listening to their laughter gave us a good feeling. I thought of Mr. Newman’s desire for these children to ‘raise a little hell’ and thought that these girls were certainly doing that. I view HOP in a different light now, the pictures and videos of the children that benefit from the HOP hits me a little harder than it used to because I’ve had a glimpse into their world. It’s them that we ride for and that we bring hope to.
I do this for these children. For the children that spend countless hours in a hospital room wishing that they could ride their bike around the block, wishing they could go out and meet some new people who will become great friends and even family, wishing that their biggest battle of the day was going to be that big hill after the Barkhamstead Reservoir or making it past those hills in Ellington. There is no better place for me to be on Memorial Day Weekend than on my bike raising money to bring a smile to the face of these children. Yes, it would have been easier to simply make a donation but this isn’t about what’s easy, is it? It’s about showing these children that there are people willing to fight the fight with them. It’s about showing these children that in life, taking the easy way isn’t always the best way. It’s about showing these children that what you experience in the fight helps you grow stronger, shows you what life is really about, and even on the rough days, can make you smile a little.