By Steve Burke
It has been an honor and a privilege (although the tips have been a bit meager, the payback has been more than phenomenal – partially described below). I sincerely thank Fred and Lynn, all the mangers, riders, and other volunteers for such a deep set of life changing moments.
It has been an honor and a privilege (although the tips have been a bit meager, the payback has been more than phenomenal – partially described below).
I sincerely thank Fred and Lynn, all the mangers, riders, and other volunteers for such a deep set of life changing moments.
Since 1988, and before I became a baggage handler, I was a camper parent and volunteer at Camp. In one of my roles I was responsible for fund raising with a group of dedicated parents. In brief, we were not terribly effective (we lacked critical public recognition outside of the Camper and medical communities). About the same time I was called by Fred and Lynn (just before the first RIDE). That asked for some help with a wild idea. I had no clue what was about to happen. Did anyone?
The first year was small (37 riders if I recall), but it was also clear that failure was not an option, enthusiasm was sky high, and things were about to really develop. And it blossomed. Among the many things it did for the Camp (and therefore the kids and their families) as it grew and evolved was to turbo charge the image of the Camp. Each year as the riders rolled across the state as ambassadors of the Camp and its’ ethic, the image, stature and healing message of the Camp grew. It put the Camp on the map. I saw it. I felt it. Everyone did.
For me personally, there are many experiences I would love to share. Perhaps the most memorable two examples involve the 2006 and 2007 Rides and our two sons. Both involve learning moments (for me). In 2006, the younger son (at college at the time) decided he was interested in riding a road bike (no real experience, but it was only across Connecticut). He raised all his own pledges (a large number of them at a couple of bucks each from his buddies) and decided to ride for his older brother – who had attended Camp for several of the Camp’s early years. He joined the lead group as they rapidly peddled off in the wrong direction. After riding a total of 98 miles the first day and doubling up on some miles on Day 2 (to encourage some lagging riders), I complemented him and expressed my pride on his athletic performance (completing the ride each day with the first finishers). He rejected the compliment. Then proceeded to advise me that his performance should be expected from a college rower with little else to do but exercise, and that if I was going to be impressed, I should direct my compliments to the “older guys” that he rode with because they were special, and did not have a brother who had attended or benefited from Camp. For me, a truly an amazing epiphany. I recorded the Ride as a milestone event in the transition of boy to young man and a life lesson. “The Power of the RIDE”.
The second learning experience came the following year. By that time older son (and camper) was in his residency at Brown. He met me at Camp on Day 1 to make the RIDE to Mystic on Day 2. We were sitting by the craft shops when a woman asked if an EMT was available as her friend and rider was not feeling well. I said I had an “almost doctor” right there. I assisted in moving the young woman to the OK Coral and left them and ran to the theater to get the assistance one of the AngelRide doctors (thanks Terry!). I was then able to observe how those two worked together and took care of this rider, not just then, but throughout the night taking turns checking in on her condition as she rested comfortably in the infirmary. She was well in morning, and the sun was out. Of course it was … “The Power of the RIDE”. Another epiphany, the first time you get to see your son in action as a doctor!
And lastly, (if you are still reading this – thank you), the question is: “What have you learned about the Power of the RIDE? Many good things I am sure.