Have you ever jumped into something spontaneously because you were drawn to it based on what is known at the time, but somehow you know that there will be something so much more than you can see initially? Or perhaps the actual experience that you expected morphs into something so much bigger in the end and you can’t do anything but smile and know that God brought it across your path for good reason, beyond anything that you could have come up with yourself?
Enter Sunny’s Pedal.
On July 24th, a friend of mine announced that he would be participating in this epic journey to raise awareness for tissue, eye and organ donation. Two things caught my eye: The cause itself, and that the means for accomplishing it was a 580 mile bike ride in 7 days…through Idaho! Be still my heart! My friend was seeking support and I had planned to offer it, but I knew immediately that I wanted to do so by participating as one of Sunny’s Pedalers. I didn’t even think about it; the pull was so strong and I knew I was supposed to do this for some reason beyond my comprehension at the moment. There were immediate obstacles. The time for signing on had since passed, I would have less than two weeks to raise enough for the cause in order to participate, I had to take more time off from work (oh, how sad!), I’d have to find transportation back home once I reached my final destination, and I was literally about to move to a new (and fabulous!) place that very weekend so fundraising wouldn’t start for several days. I had zero angst about any of it; I knew it would work itself out. Sure enough, within 24 hours the details were covered and over the next 10 days after my move, my supporters jumped on board, providing enough donations to the cause in order for me to participate. A heartfelt thank you to all of them, whether they contributed monetarily, or with love, encouragement and prayers, or the ride to the starting line! And to my sister who helped arrange for a meal at one of our destinations; more to come on that.
My schedule only allowed me to take on the first three days of the journey but what a journey it would turn out to be! My friend was in the same boat on that so we agreed to make it to McCall (can’t miss White Bird Pass!) and carpool back.
Sunny’s Pedal Eve, Friday, August 9th (also my cousin’s wedding at the same time and I was able to swing by for a short while – so happy for them both!). We gathered at Hogan’s Diner on the Spokane South Hill for a launch party for the group. It was PACKED!! A big shout out to Hogan’s for hosting this event and making so many arrangements for SP! Add this little gem of a restaurant to your list of places to go. I only knew my original friend Cris so far, so this was my opportunity to meet the other riders and supporters as well as get the necessary information we’d need for the journey before us. We met, we ate, drank carbs, took photos and readied ourselves for what was to come. Sunny’s Pedal would begin at her alma mater, Lewis and Clark High school the next morning, and finish up in Sun Valley 7 days later, where Sunny was living at the time of her death 20 years ago, subsequently impacting 100 lives by being a donor. Staggering to think of and a thought that would keep me going as I put on the miles in the saddle.
Mayor Condon gives us a send-off but before he does, he reads and presents a
declaration to Sunny’s mom, Sandi that this day was officially Sunny’s day in
Spokane. A special moment for the family and a fitting way to begin the journey.
Sunny was a cheerleader, so it was a special touch that the LC cheerleaders showed up to see us off as well.
And then we were off!
Today’s destination, Pullman, Washington. Shortly into a beautiful warm-up along the trail, we stopped at the cemetery where Sunny rests. I didn’t know her, but I could not help but feel the emotion among family and friends who were there to gather and greet us, and that emotion spilled over in my own spirit. This was something special. Fresh flowers were carefully placed at Sunny’s gravestone, stories shared, tears shed, light laughter at the good memories.
As we prepared to depart again, Sandi presented us with cooling neck hankies – I can’t think of another name for them. She put some kind of binding agent in them that absorbs and holds water like a diaper and keeps our necks cool. They were fantastic and a life saver in the heat that we would be riding in over the next several days. Thank you, Sandi!
I’ll continue with our fun-filled, amazing ride to Pullman for day one soon enough. For now, I think it’s more appropriate to pause and direct you to the specifics of Sunny’s story, in her mother’s words. It will give you an idea of not only the emotion and how special this event was, but it also shines the light on the gift of life as a result of tissue, eye and organ donation. I’ll let the story speak for itself. If you’re interested, and I hope you are, please visit this blog for that part of the story. It’s extremely impactful.