Last September 13th, 200 of my closest friends and I began a 525-mile bike ride down the California Coast – taking part in the Arthritis Foundation’s California Coast Classic Bike Tour. Our adventure took us down Highway 1 starting in San Francisco and ending in Santa Monica for a total of eight days. The coastal ride would be my reward for three months of training and fundraising in honor of my four-year-old grandson, Carter, who had been diagnosed in early 2014 with juvenile arthritis. During those three months, I received a crash course on the disease. In short, I discovered that there are 300,000 children in the US living with juvenile arthritis, and the Arthritis Foundation is leading the way in helping.
When Carter was diagnosed, his pain was so severe he could barely move or be touched. Throughout the year, Carter tried a number of medications and went through numerous treatments, but we were saddened to see that these potential solutions were ineffective in giving my Grandson a relief from the daily pain. This seems to be the norm when it comes to juvenile arthritis, unfortunately not all treatments work for every child. Seeing Carter in such pain broke my heart, and I knew I had to do something to help. When my daughter, Tarin, presented the Arthritis Foundation’s bike tour to me, it was a perfect fit; I was suddenly given this tremendous opportunity to get involved in the cause and show Carter that we are united in this battle.
I hadn’t been on my bike for two years since the passing of my son JT, and I was starting my training only 12 or 14 weeks prior to the start date – to say I was out of shape was an understatement. Eventually I had managed to train myself into “ok” shape during this short period of time, but I was determined not to let down all those people who had supported me with their donations, prayers, and encouragement. Most importantly, I had the added motivation of knowing that there was going to be a certain four-year-old boy with big blue eyes and an incredible smile waiting to welcome his Papa home at the finish line.
On September 20th, Carter, his brother Easton, mom Tarin, and dad Brett, were at the finish line to welcome my 200 friends and me home. During this life-changing ride, I met lifelong friends and fellow warriors. I learned that every cyclist has a different story and reason for riding, and that we all came with the same goal of making a difference. I knew when we crossed the finish line in Santa Monica that I’d be back, that I was hooked, and that if I wanted to make a difference, I had to get ready to be in this for the long haul. At the end of the 2014 California Coast Classic, the cyclists, volunteers, and countless supporters had raised over 1.2 million dollars for The Arthritis Foundation to fund research for better treatments and to help find a cure.
Although I am grateful beyond words for the work done by this group of incredible people, I must confess that I wish I had never heard of the race, the foundation, or juvenile arthritis. Most of all, I wish Carter hadn’t either. I wish that my Grandson didn’t have to feel the pain and experience what the disease is doing to his body. However, we will join the fight and deal with what we’ve been dealt.
Along with the help of some great team members, Carter and I have formed Team Carter. We aim to make a difference in the fight to find a cure for juvenile arthritis by committing to the 2015 California Coast Classic Bike Tour. We will train, fundraise and participate in that 525mile bike ride again. We will be at the starting line in San Francisco on Sept 26th, 2015 and finish eight days later in Santa Monica on October 3rd. During those eight days there will be many friendships made, a lot of laughs, a lot of tears, and there will be some lives changed on that road to finding a cure. Team Carter is already working hard towards our goal of a team with 20 strong cyclists riding in honor of Carter and all 300,000 children in the US with juvenile arthritis. Our team riders, together with our San Francisco team co-captain Kyle Berg, are completely self-supporting and geared up to raise awareness about the disease, and the donations will go directly to the Arthritis Foundation and all that it does.
Update: July 2, 2015 The Team Carter team has grown to over 300 riders and has raised over $100,000 for the Arthritis Foundation. Be apart of this amazing story.[box title=”Further Information”] California Coast Classic Bicycle Tour 2015
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