Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Getting outside of myself feels SO good...

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This past weekend was the 22nd annual Maine Lung Association "Bike Trek Across Maine" from Bethel to Rockland. That is 180 miles of punishing hills, black flies and mosquitoes, rough roads and grueling heat ridden by over 1400 bikers over the course of three days. For the past seven years, this event has raised over one million dollars for the good work the state association does. Every penny raised goes towards their efforts to make our air cleaner and healthier.

Everyone involved with the Trek has a compelling reason to participate. Riders often wear pictures of loved ones victimized by lung disease. Homemade signs along the route invoke riders to remember "Uncle Jim" or "Poppa" to keep up their resolve. In my case, my involvement has been dedicated to the memory of my mother who died in July 1979 from lung cancer at the age of 50. Riding the trek in 1999 just prior to the 20th anniversary of her death was one of the most emotional experiences of my entire life. Memories of her heart-wrenching struggle to simply take a breath sustained me and impelled me up even the steepest hills.

This is my ninth year of working with the Trek. I rode it for four years but my own health became an issue preventing me from continuing to ride. My last ride in 2001 was interrupted by a heatstroke and since I suffer from a seizure disorder (controlled by meds, thank God) my neurologist made me promise to find another way to participate. I am now a volunteer working to support the 1400+ riders who bravely push their way across the state. I have driven a supply truck, a small bus and now am in charge of one of the three rest areas each of the days. My rest area, named the "Friends Rest Area," has developed the reputation of being the liveliest, most energetic and most fun of the trek. Riders love that we have upbeat music playing and volunteers who genuinely seem to be enjoying ourselves (because we are!) I have a wonderful core of volunteers who return each year as well as some new additions. The volunteer coordinator mentioned to me that our rest area has become the most popularly requested assignment when volunteers sign up, so much so that they no longer list it on the application to ensure that other areas get covered.

Here are some shots of my great volunteers working hard (and yes, the cutie-patootie blonde working on the jelly and crackers is my very own daughter, Meredith. She proved herself an AMAZING worker! I'm SOOOOO proud of her!)

More pictures are coming.

It's an amazing event. I will say that my work as a volunteer is much harder than riding the trek but ultimately every bit as gratifying. The Trekkers are so appreciative of our efforts and many take the time to thank us for our work. We, in turn, thank them for riding for the cause. It means so much to be part of the greater effort for all of us. Making a difference feels so good.

1 comment:

townie girl said...

Kudos to you! I'm so impressed! What an amazing event and worthwhile cause!