The 22nd annual TREK 100 held on June 11 was another success in a long line of great Rides. The MACC Fund is so fortunate to be able to have such an incredible partnership with the company that has forged the leading name in cycling, Trek Bicycle Corp. of Waterloo, Wis. Trek opened its doors once again for the Ride for Hope which signals the official start of summer each year for the MACC Fund – and many others.
The disappointing spring weather didn’t dampen the spirits of the 2,200 riders who showed up bright and early to Ride for Hope. Their training may have been cut short by Mother Nature, but they all knew they would be supported by hundreds of enthusiastic volunteers from Trek and the MACC Fund and by the best bike mechanics around as well. They were welcomed by towns and municipalities which offered their services for four courses measuring 19, 36, 62 (100k) and 100 miles. Very early morning rains cleared away before the first riders left Trek’s impressive headquarters following a stirring rendition of the National Anthem by Laura McGonagle who shares her great gift with the TREK 100 every year.
Before they left they met Christopher who was recently diagnosed with cancer and quietly sat in a wheelchair as his “Cruisin’ for Christopher” team rode by flanked with hundreds of newfound friends who were touched by his poignant story. The riders saw a familiar face in Brandon who is entering his senior year in college and once again told the riders “If it wasn’t for you supporting the MACC Fund, I wouldn’t be here today.” His words always touch the riders. So do Cindy’s who spoke of her beloved Cheri who thanked the riders for the last time in 2002 shortly before her fourth bone marrow transplant. She died about three weeks later but her spirit lives on in the TREK 100 and all the MACC Fund does. Cheri’s dad, adorned in orange, her favorite color, made sure the riders set off in an orderly manner once again this year.
The day was long, but it was oh so worth it. Arriving from a nearby hotel at 3:45 AM, the staff did their best to convince themselves and each other that it wasn’t really raining. It worked for a while, but a steady rain spoiled those thoughts. Just as quick as it started, the rain stopped never to be seen again once the first riders headed out at 7:30 to the sounds of early-rising members of the Rose Bowl experienced UW Band. They serenaded each colorful wave of riders with crowd favorites. More than half of the states were represented as well as several countries.
Each year, I get to mingle with the appreciative riders while doing my duties of emptying the trash boxes. Some observers might say that this is my true level of competence. It offers a chance to thank the people while also doing unscientific research gaining valuable insights into their riding experience. Almost to a person, the comments are positive. Remarkably they include the riders offering thanks for helping to give them this great ride. That is always amazing and serves as a tribute to Trek and its fine team as well as to Colleen Moran who does such an incredible job of leading the MACC Fund’s efforts. Unflappable, she always deflects attention to others in the spirit of “servant leadership.” Insiders know who makes it happen for the TREK 100 from the MACC side though. Words can’t thank this mother of 2 enough for her dedication to the MACC Fund which started the day after she graduated from college 18 years ago. She looked like a happy mom holding her 4-month-old Patrick who joined his big sister Mary for a visit to Trek where their Dad works “riding bikes.” This popular little twosome helped brighten an already bright day.
Walking through the crowd tending to the trash, I met an incredibly fit 72-year-old who has ridden in every TREK 100. This year he was joined by his 14-year-old grandson who was visiting his grandpa from Utah. The boy listened patiently as I urged him to treasure every moment with his grandpa. Grandpas have a way of looking out for each other. Grandpa beamed as his grandson’s proud daughter stood by admiring her dad as well. Grandpa wanted him to do this ride because it was so good and was so special for what it accomplished each year.
There was another TREK 100 veteran who has a perfect dance card as well who fit in the 2011 edition before making the 3.5 hour ride to Hudson, Wis. for a 3:30 PM wedding. Virtually nothing, he said, would keep him from riding in the TREK 100 and helping the MACC Fund like he has since 1988 when he was the beloved principal of Shorewood High School. That started ongoing support from the impressive high school which continues today. There was couple who traveled from Illinois and watched in wonder after their ride. The thousands who gathered support the work of this wonderfully gifted clinician who cares for the children whom the MACC Fund is dedicated to helping. She was joined by a gracefully aging cancer researcher/clinician pioneer who rides nearly every year and was affectionately known as “Dr. Peanut Butter” by Teddy, a member of the MACC Fund Angels.
There was an octogenarian who rides each year as well. He enjoyed the fun surrounded by youthful admirers. He was joined by a spry sexagenarian who took up the riding challenge after talking to a mom whose child is a cancer survivor. They attended “An Evening With Aaron Rodgers” for the MACC Fund a mere 25 days ago. He went from 0 to 25 miles (he circled back to his original riding group several times) in 1.47:00 while raising several thousand dollars in the process. This affable “60 Something” has had special place in his generous heart for the MACC Fund for over a quarter century. Having him with us for this big event was an added gift.
It is always a special treat to see our friend who was recently promoted to General in the Indiana National Guard. Several years ago, he rode his own TREK 100 while serving in Iraq as a Colonel. Whether in Iraq, where he served twice, or in Indiana, each year he raises thousands of dollars to help the MACC Fund help kids. This meeting found his arm in a sling from a “bad decision” on his part earlier in the day. He raved about the SAG (TREK 100 course support) help, the local hospital in Columbus and all who cared for him along the way. A friend of his serving in Afghanistan is doing his TREK 100 there now following in this special TREK 100 tradition. Joining our friend were riders supporting the “Wounded Warriors.”
There were family reunions and colorfully clad teams enjoying well-deserved carbo-reloading moments. A young couple counting down the final months of their engagement returned from their ride and spent the rest of the day helping out. They walked through the crowd passing out ice cream bars to grateful riders as a harbinger of their walk up the aisle in two months as husband and wife. There was an ageless grandmother who watched over the food tent all day as only a mom turned grandma can. She smiled endlessly as appreciative riders – whose day started with fresh pancakes on the griddle – marveled at the fare presented to them by accomodating volunteers clad in their red TREK 100 shirts.
Through it all, “Road Trip” entertained the relaxing riders from a giant stage. This enormous wonder somehow folded into a semi-trailer after its work day ended. Although it didn’t do its disappearing act until four lucky raffle winners won three great prizes including a Madone and a weekend at Trek’s beautiful Mansion Hill Inn compliments of the genial and generous host, Trek Bicycle Corp.
The final rider rode in about 6:15 PM. The MACC Fund crew thanked the dedicated volunteers who remained and got back in their seven Ryder trucks about a half hour later, some 15 hours after arriving full of hope for another great day while undoubtedly quietly praying for a good day. The prayers were answered and everyone departed knowing that kids with cancer and related blood disorders were well served.
The fun and fund-raising isn’t over though. The inaugural TREK 100 on-line auction kicks off in a few days. It includes once-in-a lifetime items from Trek for the Tour de France and the Tour de California as well as exciting behind the scenes items for the Milwaukee Bucks and the UW football Badgers. Check out http://www.trek100.org for more information.
The 2011 TREK 100 is now another important part of the great History of Hope that that is the TREK 100, the largest fund-raiser in the MACC Fund’s impressive 35-year history. The previous 21 Rides have raised over $9.2 million. That incredible $10 million mark looms on the horizon and the on-line auction provides an extra chance to hit it. Whether it is reached this year or next, one thing is certain – the children, their family, friends, caregivers and dedicated researchers all have two words for the Trek Bicycle Corp. and everyone who was part of the 2011 TREK 100 – “Thank you!”
John Cary, Executive Director
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