Emma here. As Joey prepares for his upcoming ride of epic proportions, I wanted to send him off with a few words from me and his parents.
I try to say how proud I am of you as often as I think is possible while also making sure to keep your highly inflatable ego in check (#sarcasm). You started out as the class clown in high school, graduating to a community college attendee when you weren’t sleeping through your classes and my reminder phone calls to get up and go to freaking class. I knew there was more in you than that so when you finally hit your stride pursuing your bachelor’s degree, I knew you had finally found your footing. This saying would’ve made a lot more sense had you become a runner but as it goes, your feet fell sternly atop a pair of pedals and never left.
Solo rides to work and back turned into joy rides with friends, which turned into roping groups of friends to push their physical limits on longer rides, which finally turned into you pedaling off to pursue even longer rides and topping personal bests.
All the while, you continued to excel at school and work, rocking your labs with your dedication to research and not only excelling yourself but helping those around you to reach their personal best with your incredible knack for leadership and mentoring.
It’s no wonder why I married you, as it is also no wonder that you chose to bike to our wedding.
Now you have chosen to undertake your biggest cycling challenge yet in RTYD IV (aka “The Big Ride”), pairing the awesome mileage challenge–750+ miles in five days–with The Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation for Autism’s mission to raise funds for autism awareness and research. This, after a very successful month fundraising and pedaling your little legs out for The Great Cycle Challenge.
I am so proud. What started out as a “what if” in January of this year has turned into a reality just over six months later. There are not many people I can say with confidence would work themselves as hard as you have both on the bike and off to make this goal a reality. In fact, back when I first met you in 2005, I wouldn’t have been confident enough to bet on the possibility of any of your achievements thus far.
You’re my ace in the hole.
You’re my Jack up the sleeve.
You’re my other thing that you didn’t think was there until BLAMO!!!… in yo face.
You know there aren’t two parents alive who wear their admiration for their son on their sleeves more than yours. But for posterity, I wanted to have them record their words to you here.
I love you, Joey. I trust you to be safe, I believe in you to be smart, and I am cheering for you to achieve what you set out to achieve. With all my heart, I love you… and baby, too.
Dearest little buddy,
I remember the time you bought the Taurus and then shortly after you bought your first real bicycle. Who would have thought that you would prefer a sore butt to a comfy cushion? I believe you rode that bicycle more than drove the car. You started riding it to work at Bob Evans, then you announced that you were going to go on a bike ride to Fredonia. I thought you were crazy but that was only one of many rides that you have since undertaken.
Who would have guessed that all those times hanging in Falconer with your friend Danny would have given you such passion? And passion it is because you would have to have passion in order to ride in the freakin’ winters that you have ridden in.
I’m amazed at how you are able to put more than 100% when you enjoy what you are doing.
Keep up your passion and enjoy the RIDE!
Love ya Little Buddy,
Ma, Mommy, Mama, Mom, Mother
To my son,
Webster’s Dictionary defines pride as “a feeling of deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements or the achievements of those whom one is closely associated or from qualities that are admired.”
With you, my son, there is so much for me to be proud of. There are so many qualities in you that I admire. You are intelligent, humble, and altruistic; everything I am not. I admire how you challenge yourself to achieve what others only think of. It reminds me of a saying: “Have you ever pushed yourself to your limit? Then how do you know you have one?”
With each new achievement you make, the pride within me swells. As I say whenever you achieve a new milestone, “That’s my touchdowns.”
I was proud the day you were born… Touchdown!
I was proud the day you took second place at the Pinewood Derby… Touchdown!
I was proud when you graduated Kindergarten, the sixth grade, high school, college, and of all your academic successes… Touchdowns, all!
I am proud of your musicianship… Touchdown!
I was bursting with pride and had tears in my eyes the first time I saw you in your marching band uniform, the time your band won the Battle of the Bands, the times you won States with your marching band… Touchdown, touchdown, touchdown!
I was proud to have played football with you and especially the day you caught your first T.D. pass (my head was not on a swivel that play)… Touchdown!
I am proud of the family you’re making, especially your wife Emma. and your soon to be child… Touchdown!
And now I’m proud of the journey you are about to embark on. Not only is it your personal challenge but also it is one of altruism as you raise money and awareness for others and their afflictions… Touchdown!
You are about to take on a challenge that few would attempt. Good luck, take care, and may the Gods of Travel (Hermes and Mercury) be with you. All too often people look back on the things they did not do rather than the things they did. You will not have these regrets.
And remember: “No, your legs are not tired. Yes, you can breathe, keep going.”