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2009 Livestrong Challenge Review

The following is a synopsis of the weekend in Philadelphia in 2009.  I think you’ll find that it was a truly amazing experience…

THANK YOU all for the support you provided in last Sunday’s Philadelphia Livestrong Ride.  I successfully raised approximately $2,000 and I couldn’t have done it without you.  All the participants in the events helped to raise $3.2 million to fight cancer.  The weekend was quite a bit more emotional that I had anticipated, riding with my family, riding with survivors and talking about those that have lost their battle.  Coming down the home stretch, together as a team, with Karen and Noah waiting for me was a moment that I will cherish forever, as you can probably see in the photo of me and Noah at the finish.  Sunday started off early with a 5:30 am rise, followed by a quick cramming of muffins and bananas in my mouth as I met up with the team.  We loaded the bikes and headed out from the hotel at 6:00.  We ended up parking about a mile away from the event as the parking line to get into the start area was a mess at that time, so we pulled over, unloaded and rode to the start.  Seeing 6,500 bikes along with several thousand runners, walkers and family members gathered at the start was a pretty amazing sight.  That’s a lot of bikers in one spot, and as you can tell from all the bright colored spandex we wear, bikers are an interesting group.  The ride started around 8:00.  The first 10 miles we pretty much had control of the entire lane of road as the police had blocked off the roads.  This section was mostly downhill and we traveled at a brisk pace, and made it to rest stop #1.  After a quick bite to eat and stretch, we took off toward stop #2 at Upper Perkiomen Valley County Park where we ran into some actors wishing us well.  Immediately out of this stop, there was a pretty major climb (who knew there would be so many hills in eastern PA?) where several people ended up walking up the hill. But not our team – granny gear and all – everyone made it up without incident (granny gear is the easiest gear on the bike for the non-bikers).  The next 10 miles or so were very hilly and we took our time, enjoyed the scenery and the camaraderie of the event.  At the last rest stop, we had a chance to relax for a few before heading off to the finish together.  We made some small talk with the volunteers who graciously spent their Sunday morning making PB&J sandwiches, cutting oranges, and mixing hundreds of gallons of Gatorade.  Each volunteer that we spoke with had a personal connection to cancer, so talking with them and hearing their stories made the last 10 miles even more meaningful.  One volunteer in particular had just lost her pre-teen son to cancer in February and was doing her part to fight in his name.  Team Livebold set off together from this last stop and rolled through the finishing shoot together as a team.  Karen and Noah were waiting at the finish for us and cheered us home.  The finishing shoot divides about 1/4 mile from the finish: survivors split to the right while supports stayed to the left.  Uncle Don headed right at this point while the rest of us stayed left, all crossing the line together.  At the finish, Uncle Don received a rose in honor of his successful battle with cancer. We spent the next few hours as a family, refueling, relaxing, dancing and enjoying the beautiful day that we received.  A good bit of time was spent in what I’m calling the “memory tent” (not sure what the official name was).  This was a space for people to fill out yellow note cards with messages to cancer (I especially like the Chuck Norris one) and to write cards in memory of and in honor of loved ones.  Several cards really brought out the emotion in me and you’ll see them in the photo’s.  Messages to “mommy’s” and “daddy’s” were especially difficult to see being a relatively new father and having wonderful parents of my own.   It was truly a memorable experience and once again, I thank you all for your support.  I look forward to doing this again next year and expanding our team to include even more people.  Below you will find a link to our photos from the event, I hope you have the time to take a quick look to see what it is all about.  

Thanks for reading and thanks for all of your support.  Lee

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