Day 1 was an incredible day. Each of the riders, Joe DeLamielleure, Eljay Bowran, and our coach Dick Comar were eager and ready to do what was needed to begin the ride of our lifetime. I could hardly sleep and woke up at 4:30 am to begin a day that came so much quicker that I ever imagined. It was a beautiful sunny day that opened with my sending out information emails and frantically packing everything needed for an 18 day trek. Dick Comar was up early making sure the bus had all of the bike ride supplies, equipment, materials, food, cornstarch, etc. Our second vehicle, a blue suburban wrapped in an impressive display of bike rider and orphanage visuals, was also packed to the top. We began our day attending a private mass with family members reflecting upon the importance of this trip and the blessings that each of us has to be able to give back by being members of the bike ride team. We prayed for safety, our loved ones, and that the ride would fulfill its purpose of letting people know how important it is that we take some times in our lives to give back and focus on those less fortunate children in a way that will help them overcome their extreme challenges of poverty, abandonment, and neglect. We prayed that in some way we could generate the necessary support that would allow these children to have opportunities through our orphanage to be loved and supported so they too could some day become productive and contributing citizens who will be able to give back to others in need. It was a great time for feeling the meaning and purpose of our ride and realizing how important it is to the lives of these children.
We proceeded to Michigan State Stadium to see an incredible volunteer team setting up for a tailgate with the Irish Pub restaurant ultimately providing 1000’s of MSU fans with free hot dogs and hamburgers along with Kellie and Marylin Dean donating all of the water and sodas. My wife Cindy worked diligently with all of the volunteers while greeting friends and accepting many best wishes for our bike team. Thousands of MSU fans and friends came to offer their support and best wishes.
Just before game time we were surprised by a torrential rain storm that postponed the beginning of the Green and White spring football game and left all of us stunned by the transition from a beautiful sunny day to one that put some doubt in many people’s minds as to whether the game could be played or if we could begin our bike trip. Within a half hour, the rains stopped and we entered that MSU stadium through the tunnel feeling much like we were getting ready to play in football game just like we did in the early 1970’s. The stadium was electrifying and set the stage for what was to become one of the greatest MSU stadium send-offs ever.
Our 2000 mile trek began at the 50 yard line of MSU stadium at half time when all of the football players lined up from the 50 yard line to the tunnel and Coach Mark Dantonio greeted all of us and shook our hands and wished us well. As we walked with our bike to exit the tunnel, there was a touching standing ovation from the crowd and everyone of the football player’s slapped hands with us as we exited the stadium to begin mission.
The local police motorcycle brigade escorted us through East Lansing and into the next county. The ride began with great excitement and promise that we could reach our first day’s goal. Approximately 2 hours into the ride, we were hit with a significant thunderstorm that my wife Cindy later told me knocked down several trees and damaged electric lines throughout the area. While safety is the top priority of the bike ride, I never realized how damaging the storm was and rode straight through it, thinking that it was just one obstacle to get over to make sure that this bike ride is a success for these children. Our riders successfully completed the first day of our bike ride from MSU Stadium to Coldwater Michigan. We are ready to take on day 2 traveling from Coldwater Michigan to Wabash Indiana.
Written by John Shinsky