Today we had our longest ride—95 miles! And the temperature wasn’t that far off from that either. We saw a sign posted outside a bank around 2 o’clock that said it was 91 degrees Fahrenheit! We were traveling from Cleveland, OH to Mansfield, OH. So far, I have very much enjoyed the flat plains of Ohio in comparison to the hills of Pennsylvania. While today was hot and long, it was nice to have a relief from the steep inclines and it was exhilarating to have biked 65 miles by lunch time! Today I was honored to bike with the name of Chris Lipinski’s mom on my calves: Lisa Destilo. Lisa died of lung cancer last year and from what Chris has shared about his mom, it sounds like she was an amazingly strong, beautiful woman. She had to be amazing to have raised such a wonderfully positive, passionate, and spirited person as Chris.
The previous day we had a (much needed) day off in Cleveland and I had the chance to visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and dip my toes into the shore of Lake Erie. By far my favorite part of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was having the chance to see the lyrics to some of the most famous rock and roll songs written out in scribbles on lined pieces of paper—words crossed out, re-written, doodles adorning the sides. It was like an inside view into the minds of the artists…
While the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was captivating (and huge—seven floors), it did not compare to the experience I had the night before, when I had the honor to visit and spend the night at Trinity Cathedral in Cleveland, the church my grandfather, Gramps, served as dean of for twenty years, a place I had only ever heard about but never seen. The previous day, when we arrived in Youngstown, OH, we unfortunately found out that our hosts in Cleveland had to cancel on us, so we had to come up with hosts for our two days in Cleveland on short notice. I immediately thought of Trinity Cathedral and gave them a call to see if there was any possibility they could host us for the night. Hearing that I was the granddaughter of Perry Williams, the cathedral opened its arms to my fellow 25 riders and me. We arrived the next day at the doors of the cathedral to find we had been set aside the entire youth center of the church as well as given access to showers and a kitchen. The word appreciative does not begin to describe how we felt. I cherished the opportunity to meet Rosemary at the front desk who worked with my grandfather (of course, she only had wonderful things to say about him). I also had the amazing opportunity to see the chapel where Gramps used to serve his sermon every Sunday morning and the stone engraved with his full name embedded into the chapel entrance. Clayton, one of the other riders on the trip, took a picture of me outside the stone (I hopefully will post soon!). The next morning, three of the riders—Clayton, Stephen, and Muireann—stayed for the early morning sermon and told me that the reverend was so kind as to mention the 4K for Cancer ride during the sermon and that people came up to them afterwards asking how they could donate to the cause and of course, sharing wonderful comments about Gramps.
I know that Gramps would be happy to hear that I am participating on the 4K for Cancer ride and would give me a big smile and thumbs up knowing that all 26 of us stayed as his church over night.
Before arriving in Cleveland, we spent the night in Youngstown, OH (wow, so much has happened since I last updated!) at Westminster Presbyterian Church. Members of the church cooked us a fantastic dinner and we had the opportunity to give a brief presentation about our ride thus far and to individually stand up and tell why we decided to sign up for the 4K ride. I cherished the opportunity to have the space to discuss our connection to the cancer community and to feel the passion everyone had in the room towards combating a disease that affects so many. As I explained in my presentation, in the process of fundraising, I came to realize just how many of my family and friends, classmates, and co-workers have been affected by cancer. It seems that almost anyone who I mentioned the 4K ride to had a story to share, a person for whom I could dedicate one of my 70 days of riding to (and I hope that I will be able to ride for everyone who has supported me and has had a family member or friend suffer from cancer). In fact, the day we traveled to Youngstown, I, along with Valerie and Kristol, was in charge of securing food donations for lunch (we rotate taking time off from riding to drive the van and collect food) and I had the pleasure to talk to a local shop owner in New Castle, PA who informed us that his brother, sitting right outside the shop, was a cancer survivor. The owner kindly donated us a few bottles of Gatorade and a handful of snacks and afterwards when we went out to talk to his brother, Billy, to tell him about our ride, Billy handed us a $20 bill to help us buy food for the riders. Everyday on this trip I find that I am devastated by how many people have been personally affected by cancer and simultaneously amazed by the generosity and loving spirit that we find in every place we stop. We truly are all connected to one another.