When I taught the first year of the Tour De Pier, my experience with cancer was (relatively) limited. Our family friend, Joan, had kicked breast cancer’s butt and my wife’s Dad was going strong after learning a few years prior that he had a slow growing form of liver cancer. I chose “The Battle” as the theme for my hour. If someone close to you is affected by cancer, then it is time to fight! Time to Battle!
A few months after the inaugural TdP, I received a call from my sister. “Mom fainted. She’s in the hospital. It’s bad. They think it is brain cancer”. After the initial shock, our family went into battle mode. In the end, even the strongest fight would not have saved my mom from stage 4 Glioblastoma, an aggressive tumor that has a very low survival rate. I learned first-hand that the supporters, and all they do, are an integral piece of the fight against cancer. My sister Marjorie had slept on the floor next to my Mom for nearly 6 months, giving her every comfort possible. The palliative care nurses, angels amongst us, worked tirelessly to ease both the physical and emotional pain. During the second year, I chose to ride for the “The Supporters”.
One month after the 2nd Tour De Pier, our great friend and amazing Tour De Pier supporter, Betsy McLaughlin was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer. I watched her true warrior spirit as Betsy faced the fight head on and showed a strong resolve to beat it. Our next time on the TDP stage would be honoring that strength in all who so bravely fight for life and dignity. In year 3, we rode to the “Power of Strength – We are Warriors”.
Leading up to last year’s TdP, I heard a “live” track from the former lead singer of Dishwalla titled “Give”. In his emotionally, authentic delivery of the song J. R. Richards begs, “What would you give? What would you GIVE”?! The message resonated with me for months. I would listen to the song and think, “What would I give? What have I given? Has it been enough?”. I wanted to frame those questions for the TdP riders and supporters. We then asked the question, “What would you do if someone was having a bad day?” to a group of elementary school kids. Their answers, in the form of drawings, reflected the pure thought of children. Here is a link to view the drawings (http://bit.ly/2ltdc0n). Last year we rode in the first hour to the theme of “Give”. The event raised over $1 million to support the fight against cancer. As important were the gifts of energy, smiles, laughter and tears.
This leads us to the 5th year, a great milestone for the TdP. For me, this year represents the powerful intersection of the Battlers, the Supporters, the Warriors and the Givers. It takes all of us, gathering together with our hearts, heads and energy, to move the needle in the fight. As one, we will ride with the common goal of eradicating cancer for good. I ride because there is still work to be done. I ride because I believe in The Power of Shared Energy. And I ride because our power is our Congregation.