[Re-post from May 14, 2010]
In the Spring of 2005 my sister-in-law Kim called and told me that Adrienne (age 9 at the time) wanted to do the Ride. I figured she meant when Adrienne was 15. Nope; she meant that year.
Adrienne earned the money for her airline ticket (she had a lemonade stand, traded some gift cards for cash, and was a mother's helper) and did some "training" rides through her South Florida neighborhood (though never anything close to 25 miles). I knew the Ride would be tough for her (it's tough for me).
Adrienne and I rode together (while her brother Jamel and the guys did the 50 mile Ride) and I encouraged her along the way. You could have heard me yelling "You're a superstar, you can do it, keep riding!" through the Boston suburbs to a determined little girl (and she was little) who lost her dad to a brain tumor before she was even three and a half years old. At one point, when Adrienne was behind me a bit, I called Kim's cell phone and left a message asking her to say a prayer for Adrienne because I didn't think she was going to make it. I knew Adrienne would be devastated to not finish. Everyone at home would be asking her how the Ride went and she'd have to tell them she didn't do all 25 miles. And, honestly, I knew I couldn't talk her up for the rest of the Ride. About the time she and I were 7 miles from the end my cell phone rang and it was my friend Tadd telling me that he and Brian had finished the 50 mile Ride. I asked Tadd if he'd ride back towards us to encourage Adrienne. He and Brian did just that. I kept riding knowing that if I stopped I might not be able to start up again. Brian and Tadd stayed with Adrienne offering words of encouragement and singing to her. A man driving a support car for the riders passed them and asked her a few times if she wanted to catch a ride to the finish. She wouldn’t even look at him but stoically nodded her head, "No." She walked her bike for a bit and then got back on a rode some more. When Adrienne rode under the balloon arch at the finish line, this same man stopped his car, walked over to her and gave her a big hug and told her she had accomplished a great thing and that he was proud of her. His support car was the "sweeper" that followed the last person to finish the Ride. [This man knew nothing about Adrienne so I tracked down his email and sent him a letter telling him about her and why she was there doing the Ride that day.]
That was a BIG day for a little girl. To quote Brian, "Adrienne miraculously finished the 25 miles. She gained not only unseen pride from her dad, but she also tapped into an inner strength that is now hers forever." And to quote Tadd, "Your determination to finish on your own, reminded me of the great marathoners of the world collapsing as they finished their own races. The difference between you and them, is not only your age, but in your reasons for riding and your vision for doing so. I imagine really great things will come from you."
I kept saying to her, "YOU DID IT!!! And now you know you can do it again!"
Adrienne will be riding again this year!
If you are interested in making a donation, here a link to Adrienne's fundraising page.