My last entry this year-James Leatherwood
We need heroes
Three years ago, I rode out to Macon for my first time to join the escort as the Miracle Riders came home. I didn’t know any of them, and as they pulled in – weather-beaten, windburnt, and a bit grimy from the road – they seemed larger than life. The cheering crowd and police escort certainly reinforced the “Heroes returning home” vibe of the event.
Just a few days ago, I pulled into Macon with 14 amazing guys. Still weather-beaten and a bit grimy, we were greeted by the same kind of cheering crowd. But now I understand that it’s not the Riders who are heroes.
The real heroes are the parents of at-risk infants, who entrust their children to doctors, nurses, and other caregivers, hoping and praying that the right technology, the right medicine, the right person is in place that their child may celebrate a birthday or share a hug. They’re the ones who have to work through understanding the risks, make the tough decisions, then wait to see the results.
The real heroes are the children, old enough to understand “Hey! That HURTS!” but not yet wise enough to see how an IV, blood draw, or chemo treatment might have a benefit an hour, a day, or a year down the road. The kids who could give up, but fight on, day after day, hoping for a brighter future. And maybe a motorcycle ride someday with some friends.
The real heroes are the doctors and nurses, who go to school for years to learn how little bodies are supposed to work and how to figure out what’s going on when things go wrong. The real heroes are the administrators, housekeeping staff, aides, and others without the “glory” of wearing a stethoscope who keep the lights on, the beds clean, and the supplies stocked.
The real heroes are the ones who make the ride possible. Karen, Anna, and others who pour hours into planning, coordination, and building networks so the Ride becomes so much more than just a ride. Jessica, Sandy, and others who help get the word out, take sponsors’ money, and do so much behind the scenes. Susan, who makes sure we have a hot shower and a bed at the end of the day. So many heroes!
The real heroes are the families, friends, and employers of the lucky few who get to saddle up and ride motorcycles across the country. Even the veterans left town not knowing what the road would hold for us. We entrusted our homes, loved ones, businesses, and pets to your care. We came home to hugs, hot showers, and work to be done – and knowing you were supporting us, praying for us, and taking care of business helped us sleep at night.
The real heroes are the sponsors, who write checks large and small. They get their names printed on shirts and plastered on bikes, but that’s not why they give. They want to help make the world a better place. They want to be part of something that’s bigger than they are.
The real heroes are the people all over this country who took the time to listen to our stories. I don’t know how many times I got to walk up to a stranger and say, “Let me tell you who we are, and what we’re doing.” I can tell you I gave out 250 business cards with the Ride for Miracles information on them, and more brochures than I can count. People wanted to hear the stories. They wanted us to hear their stories, of how a children’s hospital saved the life of someone they love. And they wanted to give. In hands full of change, with folded dollar bills and checks, they, too, wanted to be part of the Ride for Miracles.
You heroes deserve a cheering crowd, a police escort, and a big party. Thanks for letting the 16 of us this year represent you, and to be part of something that’s SO much bigger than just us.
KSU at 10 a.m. in just 11 months!