Two days from now will mark the middle of our epic journey. The past two weeks alone have blurred together with consecutive 18-hour days. We have blown out tires in the middle of nowhere in Illinois, drove 600 miles out of the way to Chicago to meet with our friend Anjali, our official project mentor, only to find out that we would miss her due to flight complications. Then we met a man practicing in Buddhism in an elevator that took one look at us in and said “what’s up with the wheelchair” when I answered, “a Dirt bike accident” he simply replied to me, “well that is interesting!” then said to all of us “ well good luck on your journey, your doing great things”. We all looked at each other in awe. How could this perfect stranger see so much in us in only 35 seconds and a dialogue consisting of 25 words?
We are completely amazed at the incredible hosts thus far in our trip. Four of which have been complete strangers to all but one of us. Each and every host has brought us in with open arms and made their home ours for the duration of our stays. In Chicago we stayed with Will’s extended family, who instantly became family to all of us. Although we missed Anjali due to flight complications, Will’s Uncle Sandy introduced us to Dare To Tri, a program that we had competed against to win our grant through the Hartford. It was an honor to include them in our journey and to take part in one of their events. Dare to Tri was a perfect way to fill lost time with Anjali. When we left Chicago we ambitiously started the trek across the plains to Denver, stopping with an awesome family in Des Moines who fueled us with a sound nights sleep, a hearty breakfast, and a beautiful duet on the piano before we left.
We then slept in a Walmart parking lot before making our way to the swanky room at the Denver Marriot, which was significantly discounted thanks to our next host Craig Hospital.
I will never say what is the best stop of this trip because each experience has brought something totally different to the film. I can say that our visit to Craig Hospital in Denver was, for me, one of the most powerful experiences so far. Craig hospital is an incredible hospital that completely impressed me. Their emphasis on community and recreation makes this facility incomparable to any other I have known in the past nine years. After several interviews with staff and patients, making a presentation and showing our trailer, I played a game of basketball with a young man that missed our presentation. He asked me if I was a patient and then when I told him why I was there he asked his mother and father to pull up Endless Abilities on there tablet. While spending a half an hour with this young man and his family I could see their sense of hope brighten. It was an amazing feeling for us to offer hope directly to people who are in the same shoes that I was in nine years ago. Meeting and staying in contact with a cute staff member is pretty neat too!
In Denver we also met with National Sports Center for the Disabled who is based in Denver and in Winter Park, CO. After meeting with Hal O’Leary, NSCD’s founder, and his incredible staff, we drove to their Winter Park location to take part in their favorite summer sport, rafting. Despite low water levels on the Colorado, today could not have been any better. Our guides became best friends and two AmeriCorps volunteers offered to save us a ride back to Denver and accommodated us in NSCD’s amazing condo at Winter Park. The four of us, and the 10 AmeriCorp Volunteers, all went out for drinks and dinner to watch our beloved Celtics lose their second playoff game. Despite the loss it was a fantastic game and the day had been so amazing that it was hard to be down about it. Next stop is Utah, where we still have our fingers crossed to meet and bike with Chris Waddell of One Revolution. So far, everything has been incredible and we are looking forward to our surf trip in California.
One big additional thanks to Denver's ABC7 for hosting us live and letting us share our story than the people we saw in person. We assume that all the beeps and waves we got in CO were due to your segment on our Endless Abilities.