Rolling with the punches (to the stomach)

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If we have learned anything on this trip, it has been: flexibility and going with the flow. And the past two days have been no exception. At least on my part (to save you from scrolling to the bottom, “my” would be Luke’s possessive).

For my esteemed teammates, Saturday morning began with a lovely morning jaunt with the Samuelsons to The Belted Goat, a local coffee shop. They enjoyed coffee and pastries with the whole family (Ken and Micky’s children and grandchildren joined the fun!). From everything they said, it was am awesome time of fellowship with one of the great families we have met along the way.

But I wouldn’t really know, because my morning began at about 1 am with a much less lovely introduction to a stomach bug. I spent the next 8 hours or so in a rather unpleasant fashion, the details of which I will spare you. Because of my unfortunate condition, bicycling was a bit out of the question, so we ended up having to drive to Charlotte. Seeing as we made it to our destination much earlier than expected (turns out cars are much much faster than bicycles – who knew?), we stopped for lunch at the famous Mac’s Speed House, a stronghold of classic North Carolina BBQ. And when I say we ate, I of course mean the other three because my stomach was still churning like crazy.

We then went on to the Fulginiti household, where we could not have been more welcomed. Seriously, Mike and Sandy made us feel right at home – and even made me a special dinner of chicken noodle soup! We thoroughly enjoyed last night and this morning with them, and feel blessed by their hospitality and kindness. Thanks guys!

Today we made a rainy transit to Greenville, SC by way of Spartanburg. In Spartanburg, the wonderful Wade’s Restaurant treated us to an awesome lunch! We knew we were back South with all the fried chicken, Mac and cheese, and sweet tea they brought out! Next time you find yourself in Spartanburg, make a trip there! You won’t be disappointed.

Tonight we are staying with the Reinstein family – Mark, Kelli, Jake, Lizzie, and Faith. We are having a blast with the other four family members – a labradoodle, a lab, and two shih’tzus.

Tomorrow we visit the Greenville Memorial Hospital and then head to our penultimate stop: Athens, GA!

Rally On!
Luke and the Team

PS – I’m feeling tons better! Ready to ride again!

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Ice Cream, Movies, Pools, Oh My!

Hey, Rally supporters! First of all, I just want to take a second to thank you for continuing to follow our ride and supporting and encouraging us over the last few weeks. I still cannot believe we are only a few days away from finishing up…I have to say the last three weeks feel more like three months to me with all the traveling around we have done! I have to tell you all though that this journey has absolutely blown away any and all of my expectations. To be honest, the reality of childhood cancer and seeing it first hand over and over again has been tough on me emotionally, BUT I could not be more thankful for this opportunity to learn about and really develop a passion and desire to see out the fight for this cause! I have been to many different cities, to Costa Rica, and even to Kenya a couple of times on mission trips–so I have seen and experienced a lot, but this experience with so many sweet little patients, persevering families, and determined doctors has quite literally revamped my perspective on life. I know that I have every intention of carrying on their stories and their legacies as well as their fight as I head to nursing school this summer!

Now I’m (Zach) jumping in to to finish this thing off! I love having Hannah write these things because her heart for these kids and families is so evident and her voice is so authentic. I get to write the boring stuff–well not boring–but the detailed things. Today was one of the first when our hospital meeting wasn’t scheduled for dawn and we actually had a morning to enjoy with the Samuelson family! They may be in their 80′s but my goodness we wore ourselves out trying to beat Ken at pickle ball, ping-pong, and ice-cream eating. After two showers (well for Luke anyways) we headed off to the hospital at UNC-Chapel Hill where we met with Dr. Julie Blatt who was a hoot! She really knew her stuff and gave us a great tour of the hospital where we got to meet with some awesome kids and take a few pictures along the way! Just below you can see a snap shot of us with Eli:

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After our visit at UNC we met with Jane from St. Baldrick’s Foundation who we met in D.C. and she took us out for lunch (kind of crazy that her office happened to be in the area we were biking to…). We enjoyed burgers (as usual), lemonade, and great conversation! With our bellies filled, which is becoming quite the norm on this trip, we headed back to hang with our host family and soon found ourselves enjoying some time at the pool and hot-tub complete with a friendly game of ping-pong before heading to dinner at S&T’s Soda Shoppe. Y’all, you should have seen the ice cream at this place!! This is just one of the Sundaes…

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From there we headed home for a movie (the Hitchcock classic, “Dial ‘M’ for Murder”) and are now retiring after what y’all now know has been quite the strenuous day. I mean pools, ice cream, pickle ball, and leisurely lunches? Who can handle all that tiring stuff?

Tomorrow we have a loooooooooong ride to Charlotte and will check in later that evening! We hope to see many of you at The Globe in Athens on Monday, June 11th at 6 PM!

Thanks as always for checking in! 

Rally On!

Hannah, Zach, Luke and Ryan
Rally Bike Ride 2012 

Tar Heel Country

Well we have finally reached civilization again after biking through the beautiful, but empty, Virginian countryside and northern Carolina border. Our route today took us from Oxford, through Durham, and on down south of Chapel Hill. It was there that we met up with the Samuelson’s whose great niece, Alexa, passed away from neuroblastoma at age 11. They have been a delight to stay with and we have enjoyed sippin’ on sweet tea, pounding some spaghetti, and topping it all off with ice cream, brownies, and a movie. The great thing about biking so much is the unrestrained diet, though our support team may need to exercise a little more caution… Only kidding, kind of.

Tomorrow afternoon Ken (Mr. Samuelson) has promised us a morning of pickle ball, ping-pong, and a filling breakfast before we ship off for our hospital visit at UNC. After our visit we will be grabbing lunch with some folks from St. Baldrick’s Foundation and returning back for another night at the Samuelson household–it’s kind of nice to not have to repack again for at least another 24 hours. We are getting closer and closer to Atlanta and things are really starting to fly by! Some publicity is also being generated and we have done a radio interview for WUOG, a blog spot for Johns Hopkins, and two more interviews with The Athens Banner Herald and The Red and Black! In addition to all of this, if you happen to be in the area, we are having a fundraising event at 6 PM Monday night (June 11th) in Athens at The Globe downtown. The folks there have graciously agreed to donate 10% of their proceeds back to Rally!

That’s all for now, pictures and video to follow!

We appreciate all of your support, please continue to check in as we hit the home stretch, and as always…

Rally On!

Zach, Hannah, Luke, and Ryan
Rally Bike Ride 2012

We spent most of the day on the road so not much to update beyond saying that we started the day in DC and we’re ending it in NC. After two days of influencing policy and whatnot in our nations capital, we drove down to Richmond to get the bikes out of the Big Al’s garage. After what was probably our 7th Chick Fil A lunch, the guys got on their bikes and we headed south. Its was pretty flat, the weather was fine and the trees provided plenty of shade.

Here’s scenic Alberta, VA

Here’s the NC state line.

Here’s a video of the guys giving a shout out to Rally kid Jordan:

Our First Lobbying

Today, we took Rally to Capitol Hill.

As we noted yesterday, we have been taking part in the Childhood Cancer Action Day, sponsored by the Alliance for Childhood Cancer (http://www.allianceforchildhoodcancer.org/).

Rally exists to make sure the funds are available for cutting edge research in pediatric oncology. However, the story doesn’t end at providing money. The path for drug development and approval needs to be streamlined so that pharmaceutical companies actually have the ability and incentive to actively develop pediatric cancer treatments. So today, along with other volunteers, parents, patients, and families with the Alliance for Childhood Cancer, we visited Congressional officials and advocated for measures to be taken that would allow for and encourage the discovery and creation of new and innovative treatments for pediatric cancers. As the whole Rally Bike Ride team is from Georgia, we focused on visiting the offices of Georgia Senators Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss and Representatives Lynn Westmoreland (District 3), Tom Price (District 6), Tom Graves (District 9), Rob Woodall (District 7), and Phil Gingrey (Distict 11).

With Congress’s help, we know that these treatments can and will be produced. And that’s why we Rally On!

Tomorrow, after a quick stop at Big Al and Harrison’s home to pick up our bikes back in Richmond, we will be pedaling all the way to Henderson, NC. We really need a place to stay, so if you know of anything, please let us know!

Rally On!

Luke and the Rally Bike Ride Team

Ready to Rally! On Capitol Hill

Good morning, Rally supporters! I know it’s early, but I just wanted to give a quick update as to where we and where we’re headed today! Yesterday we made the trek back from our home with Rally kid Harrison’s family in Richmond back up to our nations capitol where we are staying with Ryan’s very own sweet and gracious grandmother! To add to the Rally crew during our time back in DC, we have Elaine Kay, Rally’s and Nashville’s super enthusiastic Elaine Kay! It’s exciting to have a girl in the group for a couple of days :)! Anyway,yesterday and today we have had the privilege of joining with the Alliance for Childhood Cancer! Here in DC today we have over 20 childhood cancer advocacy groups gathered, representing 27 states! After our day of training yesterday, we are now headed to Capitol Hill to meet with many of our country’s representatives and senators in over 200 individual meetings to not only raise awareness amongst the public sector, but also to specifically ask for cosponsorships and support of three important bills related to childhood cancer research and patient advocacy! So basically this is a super cool opportunity for our bike team to rally with Elaine in Washington DC! So, for now, we’re off to our specific meetings with our Georgia senators and district representatives. We’ll make sure to catch up with y’all later tonight to let you know how it goes!

Rally On!

The Rally Bike Team

Richmond Extravaganza

Beginning of the race!

No need for long introductions, let’s jump right in. Our time in Richmond has been so great with “Big Al” and company! Their son, Harrison, is a Rally Kid who has beaten T-Cell Leukemia and we participated in the 5th annual, “Tour de Harrison,” a 10-mile community bike ride in his honor! The place the ride was held was packed and something like $18,000 was raised with over $100,000 in the last 5 years, can you believe that?! That means we have raised close to $26,000!!!!!!! If you have been moved by this cause and the stories we have shared, please head on over to our donation page and make a direct impact: Razoo Rally Bike Ride. Anyways, the weather was phenomenal and riding at a casual 8 or 9 miles per hour on a well paved, flat road, with no car traffic was the perfect break from narrow misses and pot holes on busy roads… And even better treat than the ride was getting to meet Rally Kid Jordan who came up with his family from Georgia. Jordan is currently battling T-Cell Leukemia as well and his 6 weeks from completing his chemotherapy, a huge milestone on the way to recovery and returning to normalcy. We are praying and hoping that Jordan’s last treatment will mean a complete remission for his cancer.

Rally Kids, Jordan and Harrison awarding a check to Dr. Ferando

Some other awesome guests who showed up were: founder/president/philanthropist of the decade, Dean Crowe, Claire Olson (sister of William Olson, the inspiration behind the Rally Foundation, please read this to hear his story: http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/prayforwilliam), Austin Bauman (the very first Rally Across America Rider!!!), and his roommate Paul (another former Rally Biker). The arrival of these incredible folks reminds us that Rally is not just special because of the millions it has given to fund groundbreaking research, or the kids across the nation whose stories are being told through its events, web sites, and fundraisers, but because through all of this it truly creates a new family of people who truly rally with one another behind this cause. Every family we have been with has left an indelible mark on our lives and hope that those who are new to the Rally network and family will continue to participate for years to come. It’s hard to believe that this ride is halfway over and that tomorrow marks a turning point into the home stretch as we head back to D.C. to get some laws changed. To all these we have been with so far, you have truly blessed us, and we are so grateful for your hospitality. Please continue to check in and follow us.

Here’s us with Claire and Dean!

To Harrison and Jordan, and the thousands of heroes and fighters like them, thank you for showing us what it means to appreciate life and to persevere despite impossible odds.

Rally On!

Zach, Luke, Hannah, and Ryan

Rally Bike Ride 2012

Also, on a lighter note, what happened to Luke in this photo?!

Luke’s Optical Illusion