It’s March, and that means there’s just 4 months left until I attempt to summit Kilimanjaro with Survivor Summit!
As the days have been ticking away, I’ve been moving forward with:
1. Fundraising; I’m up to over $4,600 so far!
2. Training; I’ve been running stairs weekly.
3. And, preparing for the climb; I just purchased over half of my equipment through Whole Earth Provision Company here in Austin!
Moving forward seems like an appropriate title for this post for another reason: this past Saturday, a 2012 rider from Texas 4000 for Cancer passed away after battling stomach cancer. He moved out of this life and into the next, and he had a lot of people who loved him and were inspired by his fight.
In the days since his death, the Texas 4000 organization and Austin community have come together to support the 2012 team members during what can quite obviously be described as a very difficult time.
As an alum, I think that the news hit everyone involved in the organization—past and present—hard because, as Natalie Choate (Rockies 2007) said on Facebook, “any team member of T4K is a team member of mine.”
I remember how close I became with my team in 2009. We’d ride for each other, stand together in daily ride dedication circles, push one another up the hills, talk about our hopes for the future, and dream up plans to invite each other to our weddings some day. We’d make silly jokes, play pranks on one another, and dance like absolute idiots at rest stops.
We were—and still are—a scrappy family of brothers and sisters, bonded by the amazing summer we shared together.
Realizing that the 2012 team will have to do all those things, minus one of their brothers, makes me feel pretty sad. However, all that anyone can do is move forward and honor his memory. I plan to do both with my climb up Kilimanjaro.
This rings especially true for the 2012-ers, who I support for their amazing strength and camaraderie.
I went to one of 2012’s team meetings on Monday night and listened to some of the riders talk about Ruel. I saw understandably saddened and grieving students. But there was something more to see: riders standing together with a purpose. This team is more motivated than ever to ride their bikes to Alaska and spread Ruel’s memory all 4,500 miles, and beyond. From hearing their stories about their fallen teammate, I know that their grief will translate into the indomitable spirit to get up and keep going, even when times get tough and hills get steep.
The 2012 riders have a very personal reason to fight cancer, and they’ll be moving forward, one pedal stroke at a time.
And I’ll be doing the same, just putting one foot in front of the other, until I make it to the summit. When I think about the pain Ruel, my college mentor, my grandmother, and my uncle went through, it’s the very least I can do.