Monday, February 11, 2008

Humble Lives that Make a Difference - From Mary Beth Sammons

Humble Lives that Make a Difference
This morning, this quote arrived in my e-mail box: "A humble life dedicated to a great purpose, becomes great." - Paul Brunton

It speaks volumes about what I was privileged to witness this weekend at the ALS- Spin-a-thon at Buehler YMCA in Palatine. I've written about it before, but it is a story that keeps adding on new chapters and spreading like wildfire the living proof that one person can make a difference in a HUGE way.

It is a story that starts with three guys from opposite ends of the country - Jon Blais, who was living in San Diego and teaching special ed kids and training for Ironman competitions; Bob Mitera and John Wolski, two guys, training buddies, training for the mega triathlon events at Buehler.

Bob Mitera is working the Kona Ironman. Bob meets another Bob and his wife, Mary Ann, whose son is in the race. The son, Jon, rolls across the finish line. He has ALS... He is 34. Just more than a year later, he loses his battle with the brutal disease. Fast forward to last Saturday. Bob Blais has flown in from the East Coast to the Buehler YMCA, as he "walks in my son's shoes," from bike to bike to bike as for 10 hours hundreds of volunteers spin for ALS,to say thank you on behalf of Jon Blais...and the once small spin a thon Bob Mitera and John Wolski started for a guy who inspired them, a stranger who would become friend.

They started what has blown into a national event, because they felt compelled to help another tri-athlete -"Tri-athletes Who Care" is what they call themselves. Now the two guys who started the event .. have grown to a lot of guys... Bob Lee from Barrington who jumped in literally to help and last summer rode his bike across the country to raise funds for ALS. Bill Elwell, a training buddy of John and Bob, who jumped in and hosted Jon Blais when he came to the first event.
And a sp ecial woman who attended Saturday to lend her support. Aimee... a mom of three who has ALS... her three children are under 10. They know their mom will not be here to see them grow up. As one of the participants, Andy Richmond told Aimee, when he got down on his
knees, took her hands and thanked her for being their Saturday. He thanked her for her courage and her inspiration in beautiful, eloquent words I can't do justice to here. And Jack Keegan, another guy who jumped in and has been a warrior on behalf of these warriors. And the people of all ages, athletic abilities that were there because they want to do something on behalf of a cruel killer that takes all of its victims lives. And Katie, my spin teacher and friend who hopped on a bike for 10 hours... just because she could. Because she cares.

All of these people have left me speechless.

But they have taught me one thing.. anytime I question if it matters what I do or if I care, I will think of these guys, and of Aimee, and I will kick my little self in the rear and just do it. Because they have shown me in a powerful way, that we all can make a difference, in our humble ways.
You can too. I'm posting the link to donate here. Every penny counts.

And, I share what Bob shared with me about a time when he and John W. competed in an Ironman wearing Jon Blais' number. Jon sat in a wheelchair on the sidelines, cheering on the strangers who had become friends... the guys who would carry on his legacy...
Said Bob: "As Jon Blais said (with a smile I might add) with John Wolski, Lorrie Mitera and I at the restaurant after Clearwater 70.3 World Championships, "The best part about this is we aren’t Lance Armstrong with Nike behind us! We are just three hacks! Three regular guys and look what we’ve started." As John Wolski said, "In September of 2005, if you asked a triathlete what ALS was they would have said, "A carbon racing wheel?". Not anymore.

It matters what you do. Please give.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Bob,
    I did the ALS spin-a-thon last year and it was a moving experience. I am part of the prairie stone triathlon team and I am now living in Grenada. I would LOVE to have a branch of the spin-a-thon here next year. I am starting to lead spin here at the university (they have never had organized classes)and we don't have many bikes, but I think we could make it work on a small scale. Let me know what I need to do and we can make it happen!
    Jenny Larson