Ride 4 Dray Europe 2023 - Gone MAD!
Time for planning is over. AA #5193 departs PIA @ 7:25AM, tomorrow, Tuesday 25 April 2023. After a manageable layover @ CLT, then ~8 hours to MAD on AA #748, eta 6:40AM local MAD time, 26 April. MAD airport couldn't be more appropriately named as the starting point for the journey ahead. Several friends suggest that I am a bit crazy and possibly mad for undertaking this mission. They may be right!
1 May - 31 August 2023, ~120+ days, with goals to visit 53+ RSM offices, ~20 children's hospitals and/or cancer treatment centers or foundations, visiting 37+ countries and covering ~21,000 KM, or ~13,000 miles.
A Big Thank You to my fabulous family, colleagues, and friends old and yet to meet - I am lucky and blessed. The support from home and the warm advance welcome from across the pond is more than comforting - the confidence booster I need that this journey is the right thing to do.
Here's a recap of a few of the pre-ride activities that helped make this journey a reality.
Saturday, 11 March, Sister Judith Anne blessed my bike and ride at Walters Brothers Harley-Davidson. Sister Angelita, John and Annette Heller, the leadership team from OSF Children's Hospital of Illinois, and the crew from Walters Brothers were there to experience the moment. Thank you to Walters Brothers for the gracious start to my fundraising efforts by donating $500.00 to the OSF Heathcare Foundation.
Thank You to Annette Heller for creating this one-of-a-kind Ride 4 Dray Europe Flag. Consisting of 40 of 44 U.N. recognized countries plus Kosovo. Countries recognized by the U.N. but missing from the flag are Russia, Belarus, Iceland, Malta, Georgia and Azerbaijan. Apologies to Iceland, Malta, Georgia and Azerbaijan for leaving y'all out. I will try to have your flag added when I return to the states in September.
Huge thanks to Tim, service manager at Walters Brothers. Tim went out of his way to help me crate the bike for shipment to O'Hare. And the team at AWA, led by John Strand, my heroes for working through the final paperwork for U.S. and Spanish Customs - this trip would not have happened without your last-minute heroics!
This past Thursday, April 22, JD & Julie Comfort and the awesome team at Jim's Bistro for hosting a sendoff Happy Hour. Stay tuned for pictures to be added here, after I receive a few from friends that were there.
And last but not least, lifelong friends from the class of '77 Bloomington HS, met me for a traditional the big Baldini pizza at the Lucca Grille, one of the oldest establishments in town.
More blogs to come. Admittedly rusty at this and the words do not come easy to mind. Cheers!