The final day of our bike ride was both exciting and dramatic. We began our day as usual waking up between 4:30 – 5:30 a.m. eager to accomplish one of the most significant challenges of our lives. My wife Cindy, along with my stepson Justin, flew down to Brownsville Texas to join me on the last day of our bike ride. As I went to breakfast at the Holiday Inn Express, I was immediately approached by two CBS Sports media people who drove most of the night from Austin Texas to film our last day. I knew they were coming because of my communication with CBS on Monday evening. The two men were great guys, very enthused about shooting video that would reflect the meaning of the bike ride and the passion behind our efforts. They began filming immediately after breakfast highlighting our daily routines, and reflecting the determination and personalities of our riders that have been at the core of this 2000 mile trek.
We proceeded to drive back to Raymondville to begin our ride to Matamoros Mexico. It was a warm day at 94 degrees with 88% humidity, but a good day to ride. In all honesty, I don’t care if it was 100 degrees with 100% humidity with tough conditions, it still would have been a great day, because we were in the final phase of achieving our goal.
As we approached the Veterans International Bridge in Brownsville Texas we needed to analyze the conditions and determine what would be the safest and best way to cross the border and ride to the orphanage. In order to enter Mexico, we would need to go through the United States border agents, and then the Mexico border agents. As we approached the United States border, we explained what we were doing and that we would like to ride our bikes over the border. The agents on the US side were already aware of our coming and were extremely cooperative and supportive of our request. As a matter of fact, one of the agents was a Buffalo Bills fan who knew of Joe DeLamielleure and was really excited about meeting him and talking football. I must say, one of the things I have learned on this trek is that there are Buffalo Bills fans everywhere, and they never forget their players. We had a great conversation with the border agent and began to ride our bikes to border entry in Mexico. The excitement we had riding over the US bridge felt like we were floating in the air, and everything was passing us by as if the world stood still for our entry into Mexico. We asked Damon Nolan, our orphanage building superintendent, to drive ahead to prepare the border agents in Mexico for our entry, and request that we ride our bikes over the border. Everything seemed to be going very well until we began crossing over lanes at the border and confusing agents. We not only had our bikers, but a caravan of vehicles with local media, reporters who drove from San Antonio to interview us, along with three different radio and TV stations from Mexico. Before we knew it, we were being guided to get over the border as quickly as possible because the border patrol was beginning to feel like they were losing control of the situation. We crossed the border and proceeded to load our bikes on our vehicles to drive to the orphanage, because the traffic in downtown Mexico is much too dangerous for biking.
It wasn’t too long after we got into the thickness of traffic that I began to hear sirens and see several police vehicles driving by. The next thing I know, the police vehicles were surrounding our vehicle and forcing us to stop. I thought our ride was a big event, but I didn’t think that it would draw this much attention by having a 5 car police escort through Mexico. Sure enough, it really wasn’t a police escort; it was the police pulling us over and running up to us asking all kinds of questions about one of the reporters following us that had a minor accident. The reporter was pulled over and told the police that she could not be separated from us. Therefore, the police stopped us also. I am very glad that she was able to stay close to us, because if she didn’t, she would have been alone and dealing with a serious situation in Mexico because of her accident. We proceeded to size up the situation and finally compensated the other person in the accident, which took care of the situation. I was pleased the incident was resolved and we could proceed to the orphanage.
We finally got the outside of the orphanage and began to ride our bikes down a recently paved road that would take us to the orphanage entrance. We began our ride about a half-a-mile away passing by trees that eventually faded as we began to see our six buildings come to the forefront. It was a beautiful site to see the buildings, community people, board members, and the vision that we dreamed of seeing when we started our ride on April 25th at Michigan State Football stadium. We had finally reached our destination and accomplished the greatest physical challenge of our lives. Each of us was filled with emotion, now realizing what it really took to get us to our final destination. It was great talking about what we were going to do, but it is a whole different situation when you have done it, and you know what it really took to complete the ride. I was deeply touched because I remember when Cindy, Damon Nolan, our building superintendent, and I stood on the bare land and had dreams about what we would like to see. Now we stand on the land looking at 6 buildings, 20,000 square feet of living space that will soon serve 40 children, and eventually 140 children. It has been a dream that has required the love, support, and contributions of so many people that believed this was possible and knew that it would become a reality if we just stayed the course, and kept our focus. It has been a long time effort that has had its ups and downs, but has always been moving forward not backwards. It is a dream that the children we will serve will never know, until they are blessed someday to be able to duplicate what we are doing in their own way, and then know the true meaning of life. It really is about giving, about serving, and about blessing. Wind, rain, storms, etc. will always be part of our lives, however, if we keep our focus and “Do what’s possible, and then Do what’s necessary, Suddenly, we will realize we are doing the impossible. (St. Francis of Assisi) I am a strong believer that each of us has the ability to do the impossible, if we just make the decision to do so. This is no longer a dream, it is reality.
While we have accomplished the means to the end, we must continue to keep our focus and recognize the purpose behind our bike ride. It really isn’t about Joe, Eljay, Dick, and John. It’s about the many children that do not have a voice, and live in the dump or the streets without a family, food, education, or a chance for a quality life. The children who are fortunate enough to survive these conditions are the real heroes. They are the ones who live in the rain, wind, heat, and pain on a daily basis as opposed to an 18 day bike trek. It is for those children that we have ridden, and will continue to ride, until those children are riding right next to us and making a difference with their lives.
On a personal basis, I feel like I felt when Michigan State University played Ohio State in Football in 1974, and Levi Jackson ran an 88 yard touchdown in the final minute of the game. The run had to be reviewed and everyone waited in great anticipation to see whether the touchdown would or would not count. Both teams played an extremely good game, and both teams deserved to win. However, the fate of the game was in the hands of the referees’ decision and everyone waited to see what was going to happen. Joe, Eljay, Dick, and I, along with many others, are at that waiting point to see if we will achieve our $500,000. fundraising goal. That was the real purpose of our ride and the determination of our success. We have ridden a great ride, and given it everything we have. Like Levi Jackson, we have made the long run. We now wait in great anticipation for the referees’, in this case our donors, to make final decision.
On behalf of Joe, Eljay, Dick, myself, our families, and all of the supporters of “The City of Children of Matamoros Mexico,” and especially the children who will begin their lives in our home in September 2009, we “Thank You” for your support and ongoing prayers, that we will be able to achieve our dreams and make this world a better place for generations to come. God Bless and please continue to support our children in need. This is the last blog relating to our 18 day Trek. Thank you for your support all the way!
P.S. Also please say an extra prayer for Joe DeLamielleure so that he can find his airplane ticket to get back home that he lost with his gloves, bike pants, etc. :)