From time to time opportunities arise which put you out of your normal day to day comfort zone and insert you into a very different world. The 2013 Best Buddies Challenge did this for me last week. Best Buddies helps individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Learn More.
I like to put myself into situations which are new and out of my element because I like to pick up gems and learn from other people, experiences, places and situations. I will be supporting Best Buddies both individually and professionally for the next year and as an avid cyclist really look up to this organization for using cycling to raise awareness and funds for their activities. And YES I would love it if you can donate any amount. DONATE NOW
The 2013 edition found me at Marlins Park on a very wet and windy Friday morning with 50 other riders who had raised a considerable amount of money. This was a first class event so they had us getting ready in the Marlins locker room with our own locker area replete with state of the art amenities, polished wood, flat panel TV etc. I immediately met Cristian Vande Velde from Team Garmin and another fella from Boston named Danny who was one of the top fundraisers and whose son has disabilities. Danny wan exhilarated to be riding in Miami and his enthusiasm was contagious. As we started getting ready I noticed I forgot my cycling shoes. Fortunately, I have the best girlfriend in the world and she drove them to me at 6am. So thankful! I also had a chance to chat with Garmin rider Andrew Talansky and we knew many people in common so got on very well. BB and the Marlins Park put together a wonderful breakfast spread and we were briefed on the ride by none other than Anthony Kennedy Shriver. I kid you not…he sounds just like JFK. He gave a rousing speech and then we were off for a wet, yes still raining, 62 mile jaunt through the best areas Miami has to offer.
The ride was a pretty easy pace and we kept together in a double pace line the majority of the time. I chatted with Andrew a lot about the difficulty of the Tour de France and his insight into the race is so interesting. Hincapie and I chatted about his recent triathlon. The dude held over 29 MPH for 40K on a rented bike. DEAR G-D. He’s also expecting a new baby and as a doting dad I am excited for him. We had two nice rest stops and each time someone would come around to clean your sunglasses for you or offer you a sandwich, Clif bar or fluids. It was perfect BUT the best part was the police escort. We had a full escort the whole ride and the streets were closed for us so it was perfectly safe and smooth. I could get used to that. I can’t imagine the undertaking to do this in Miami.
The ride finished with a wonderfully fast pseudo sprint to the line and then we were treated to massages and a scrumptious gourmet lunch in the skybox at the Marlins Park. Anthony gave an incredibly moving speech and motivated the whole gang to get more involved in 2014. The evening gala was held at the world famous and plush Fountainbleau Hotel. The gal began with a few hours of mingling, hobnobbing and some delicious appetizers. There were some exquisite bikes and art in a silent auction which I was outbid each time. Dang it. One of the bikes went for over 50K dollars. The formal event continued with some great speeches from Anthony and one of the wealthiest men in the world, Carlos Slim. He was honored at the gala and his presence really highlighted how important BB is. One of the best parts of the night, aside from the buttery filet mignon, were the inspiring speeches from some individuals with disabilities who benefit from the efforts of BB.
So after a late night of Sean Paul singing and dancing and some excellent desserts the Best Buddies weekend came to a close but the efforts to continue to help can not end. Without funds these individuals will not be able to have the resources to improve their challenged lives. Thanks for reading and you can help and make a difference. You can do so here: DONATE NOW
Here are some great shots from the weekend: BEST BUDDIES PHOTOS