Be the hand that extends!

IMG_0958.jpgThis guy right here has been an inspiration from day one. People ask where do I get my grit, determination, and perseverance from? It’s from pops.

He removed the word ‘can’t’ from my vocabulary, taught me my never give up attitude, and if there’s a will there’s a way.  When I was 6 weeks old I was literally crop dusted possibly causing my severe asthma. Having to use a nebulizer for 15 minutes before going out to play with my siblings was torture. Being told I wouldn’t be able to be an active child caused a chip on my shoulder very early on which is still there. My dad, Jeff, never let the asthma deter me, put me in many sports and pushed me too my limits and beyond. Proving to me anything is possible with the right mindset.

Dad taught me from day one, once you start something you better finish, no matter the circumstances. He knew life has its highs and lows… its rollercoaster movement which easily transferred to the world of sports. His teachings, scolding me when I said can’t, and believing in me when I didn’t believe in myself molded me into who I am today.

When I injured my wrist, in St. Louis, I knew I would continue. My first thought was: “At least it’s not my ankle, but I hope it is not broken.”  Anyone who knows my childhood and athletic career knows this injury could have been expected. As well as, riding 250 miles with an ace bandage. Throughout my sporting career I have had: a broken ankle, broken fingers, concussions, dislocated elbow, torn hamstring, numerous stitches and staples, tongue half bitten off, both meniscus removed, Osgood Slaughter and more, I learned to wrestle and play through pain.

During the rough days dad was there to give advice, help me put in extra practice time, and give encouraging words. The good days he congratulated me, not without his coaching and lectures, of course, but never let me be content.  He instilled a drive and fire within that is unmatched.

Many people told me, “You made it 3800 miles and crossed 3/4th of the country why not stop and let your wrist heal and get surgery?” Well, if I stop now, in my mind, my mission would have failed and the people donating to my cause should be reimbursed. I set out on #5000milesfor500scholars just for that: Ride 5000 miles and help 500 scholars. Not 3800 miles to help 380 scholars.

In life we will always have a setback. How you bounce back, to me, determines how much heart, love, and passion you have for the intended goal. If one can easily give up, obviously, the task was not their passion. Bouncing back doesn’t necessarily mean completing the task at hand, but picking yourself up, brushing off the dirt, and how your attitude/mindset is moving forward. I tend to fall often… literally and figuratively. However, I am blessed because I know no matter how long the fall  there will always be a hand extended from above. Pop’s hand.

 

Even though dad and I disagree on many things, the love I have for him is unmatched. He makes it clear he wants me home in the US, but his love and support for my goals and dreams has never wavered. Anything I set my mind to, whether he likes it or not, he is always by my side as a number one supporter.

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Little did he know the many summer hours playing ball, cutting wood, shoveling the basement (that was not a passion so never got completed), sitting by the fire telling stories would stick with me. 

When I had trouble finding a ride to Ohio he dropped his weekend plans to drive me so I could continue. We stayed up last night talking, telling stories, and celebrating world whiskey day. Through our many conversations at the fire and last night I now know where I get my stubbornness, hard headedness, and grit. As they say the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree.

As I had a set back, breaking my wrist, now in a cast, it does not compare to the daily struggle many youth in Cameroon have. Difficulties for basic school supplies, lack of buses to transport to school, no electricity to study at night, not being able to pay fees to attend school, not able to purchase basic medical necessities such as sleeping nets to help prevent malaria, and the list goes on and on.

Just like I have a hand reaching down from pops, I try to be the hand that extends for the youth of Cameroon.

Let us join hands and extend them to reach far more corners of the world!!

This is how I continue to ride with a wrist needing surgical repair.

This is what #5000milesfor500scholars is about.

This is why your donations mean so much.

This is how you can help “Supply today to secure tomorrow”

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Birthday celebrationS!

I had a fabulous birthday weekend showered with gifts, well-wishes, and great news.  

To start off the festivities, I was showered with blessings (literally) while I camped out.  I pitched tent at Fort Cobb State Park in Oklahoma. The area hadn’t had a measurable rain since September 11th where they received only 1/100th of an inch. My neighbors knowing the rains were coming early morning gave me extra blankets and brisket with tortillas. It was DELICIOUS. The day before it was 85 and sunny and I tool my shirt off for 1 hour.  I didnt get burnt, but had an extremely irritated back that itched like crazy. Turns out it is called hell’s itch. Look it up. 

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The rains started at 2AM and didn’t stop until 11! I felt extremely blessed witnessing the joy in the locals’ faces when the rains started and saturated the farmland.  I thought if I became annoyed or upset, I’d be selfish only thinking about me and my trip rather than the farmers of Oklahoma who needed this rainfall. 

Turns out my rain jacket and weatherproof pants fell off the back of my bike three days before this rain.  I planned to buy new rain gear the next stop in Oklahoma City, but Mother Nature brought rains early, I guess to test my ability to still maintain my “happy go lucky, go with the flow” attitude. I packed my bike with all 80 pounds and went to the local store. The hosts were wonderful. Allowing me to dry my clothes on the space heater, giving me breakfast, and offering me a place to stay. I said I need to take the good with the bad. Luckily, I packed a couple extra heavy duty trash bags so I was able to make a makeshift rain suit. Now ready with my new rain gear on- I headed out. Special thanks to the place with the coldest beer in Fort Cobb, Stevie Rays, for taking me in as their own!  To my blessing- the rains stopped at 11:00 and I had a clear chilly ride with a tailwind the rest of the day to Norman, Oklahoma. 

My hosts in Norman were Kwame and Natalie. We met in Cameroon while Natalie was working on her PhD research.  They stayed with me in Cameroon, for a couple of weeks, while looking for a place to rent. It was wonderful to see them again after 3 years and they were very gracious.  We bought tickets to the OKC- Utah game 5. Before this game started, sadly, I watched the Pacers lose on a buzzer beater by Lebron, so it put a damper on my mood. However, the atmosphere in the gym was unbelievable and the comeback led by Westbrook’s 20 third quarter points was a site to see and a roar to hear! I stayed a few days to rest and enjoy my birthday.  Two days of grilling out and listening to music in sunny 80 degree weather was what my body needed! For those of you who know me grilling out and listening to music are my favorite things to do. The first two days were about me and I treated myself.

I got back into ScholarShop mode, checking emails, talking to my counterparts, etc… I received WONDERFUL news. Sean, co-founder, of ScholarShop Africa welcomed a baby boy into this world the day after my birthday on April 27th.  Baby, momma, and pops are doing well and I cannot be happier for two people so near and dear to me.

The weekend of celebration continued as I chose the winner of the “name the BeachFlyer competition” and was able to give the news to the young lady herself via webcam.  A student in my sister’s first grade class came up with the name, Dragon Wheeler. I named the bike Cliff the Dragon Wheeler which is a hybrid from another student in a 7th grade class.  The first grader chose the name because dragons are her favorite animal and bikes have wheels so she put the two together.  I chose Cliff because I rode close to a lot of cliffs on the west coast and I thought that was appropriate. After talking with the winner we held a Q&A session about my ride.  I am trying to figure out how to upload that and when I do you will be able to see questions first graders can ask! Or add me on Facebook and you can see it there! They were quite good and comical too.

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BUT the competition isn’t over! Cliff the Dragon Wheeler retired itself in Los Angeles.  So, a new competition has started, I am still accepting names for my current bike!  

That same very day, April 30th, while visiting the wrestling HOF I received more great news! One of our ScholarShop students was accepted into African Leadership Academy in South Africa (ALA).  ALA is one of the most prestigious 2 year academies in Africa and less than 150 students throughout the continent are accepted each year.  Yoland, is a very gracious, humble, intelligent young lady who has huge aspirations for her future and community! Yoland could not have been a better choice for ALA.  You can read her story on the ScholarShop website.  Her hard work, determination, volunteering in her community, continually being top in her class and her dreams:  she will be a great student at ALA. Scholarshop helped Yoland reach her dream to stay in academia! Your donations helped us help her stay in school, purchase necessary items, register for exams, and taught her volunteerism, community awareness and giving back.  The cost will be high to send Yoland to ALA, but if I have found anything on this trip the world works in wonderous ways.

Through ScholarShop Africa, donors like you will continue to grow the program, send Yoland to ALA, educate more youths and supply them with necessary school supplies and help change the next generation one youth at a time.  

Please consider helping ScholarShop Africa to help students like Yoland achieve their dreams and go farther than even their dreams have went.  Visit Scholarshop’s website and help  ScholarShop to expand beyond Cameroon.  

Thanks again for the birthday wishes and I hope everyone has a wonderful May!