Wednesday, June 18, 2014
On Saturday, your Third Annual Ride For Will was held here in the community that was (and still is) your home. It was a beautiful day sandwiched between two rainy ones and my fingers were crossed, hopeful that you’d help out by keeping the rain away…. In the back of my mind I was preparing for a ten minute down pour at some point during the event, your signature “gotcha!” way of wanting to always have the last word, and in the end I was thrilled that you waited until we were safe inside.
Three years and three rides have yielded almost $150,000 to your Foundation and I am still awestruck at what happens on this day each June that we call The Ride For Will. People, young and old, show up with smiles and pledges, with hugs and support, not only to benefit your Foundation, but to honor you and show their support for Dad and I and your brothers. It is a memorable and most beautiful bittersweet day that renews our hope that you will never be forgotten. To me, there is something timeless about a bike. The simple pleasure it provides and the freedom it symbolizes is a right of passage in our neck of the woods for each and every child that grows up in this community. I will always remember the excitement that precluded any bike ride into Bragg Creek for icecream or candy and when you and your friends could do it without an adult ride-a-long, quite frankly, you’d hit the big time. Now, Will, your friends are driving to the city in their cars instead of packing their pockets with loose change to buy candy and icecream and that alone is difficult to accept at times. The passing of time is indeed a tough pill to swallow and I am quite sure it always will be.
What is magical about your Ride is that your friends and people who didn’t have the chance to know you show up with their bikes, adorned with WillPower bands, and I Ride For Will stickers on their helmets and bikes. They ride and stop at the refreshment stations and fill up on free candy and freeze pops, pedal to the school and back passing all of the familiar landmarks that were second nature to you. When I see your buddies on their bikes they magically become twelve again and though you aren’t there, YOU ARE. I am hopeful that you will always be with them in some way. Whenever I see a boy on a bike, I am immediately thrown back into the many memories of you ripping out of the cul-de-sac with your pant leg tucked in your sock (if you weren’t wearing shorts!) in a hurry to meet a friend or two at the bike jumps or the soccer field or at a friend’s house to play. Those were the gifts of an ordinary day growing up here and memories that I will always treasure.
The Apres Ride BBQ and Silent Auction/Raffles that follow your Ride are amazing too. The love and support that shows up at our community Redwood House in burgers and icecream, in items donated for people to bid on and the lure of a raffle item is also magical. The entire day is beyond anything that I can describe and when I think back to three years ago how a few friends suggested and asked if they could organize a family bike ride for us in your memory I am overwhelmed at how it all started and how it has evolved and how it has continued…
It is no secret that you are in my thoughts every minute of every day, Will. My days begin and end with you and on Saturday, June 14th it was evident that you were on the minds of many who were there to support and remember and celebrate your life cut short. I know you were looking down on all of us with your big Willy smile and bluer than blue eyes. Since your tragic passing, it has always been our hope that something good could be born of something so tragic. There is healing for us knowing that in your memory what began as the simple pleasure of a bike ride has grown and taken on an identity of its own. The Annual Ride For Will allows us through your Foundation to make a difference in the world and that just feels right and feels good.
Now as I bask in the afterglow of Saturday’s Ride For YOU my heart feels a little lighter and oh, so full. You, little Blue, are quite a boy.
Love you like a bus on a bike, (and only you could make sense of that!)