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Reflections on the 2018 Miracle Ride

What is on your mind? Are you wondering if you can get home in time to cut the grass? Are you looking at 4 or 5 piles of laundry that need to be done? Are you trying to figure out how to juggle the soccer game, ballet class and still have time to watch the ball game on Saturday? You are trying your best to be in control of your days? But this month a tiny premature infant left the hospital and didn’t go home but instead went to a loving foster family willing to feed, nurture and hold him. Last night a child went to bed only to be taken away in the dead of night to a safer place than their home, and all they felt was fear. And in hospitals in Amarillo Texas, Sioux City Iowa and Columbus Georgia a mom is resting her head on the foot of the hospital bed that holds her very sick child and cries. The people affected in these stories aren’t trying to control their lives they are just hanging on. The Miracle Riders started out on a fun trip with great destinations ahead. They didn’t know what those destinations were but it was going to be good. They have hit some real highs and some lows and struggles but none greater than the children they ride for. You see, while you and I continue to control our lives we need to remember we are the fortunate ones. Maybe we just need to let go sometimes and enjoy the unexpected and be thankful.

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King - 1lb 10ozs It's why we ride. - Jonnie Ellerbee

Another day, another post for Jonnie and the Miracle Riders! This one is extra special because Brookstone family member Liza’s son, King was born at 1 lb. 10 oz. and was a recipient of equipment purchased with funds raised by the Miracle Riders! Big sister, Elle, has a message for you!! Look closely at what King is holding!! He’s has had it since he was born and in the NICU!

Go to the video tab and see a message from the family.

The seniors sure did miss you at Senior Day today! We are thankful for you, your fellow riders, and your families for allowing you to do what you do!

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Jonnie Ellerbee - The Goodness in People

So here I am, alive, healthy, and doing 2 things that I love, riding motorcycles with this amazing group of men, and helping the kids.

Although the kids are not he only ones that are helped. We all share in the joy of seeing the good in people, the Riders, the parents, the people that just walk up and ask us what we are doing and who we are.

They sit or stand and listen to our story, of who we are and what we are doing. 

The Riders when they share their story....the goodness in people. The light in a kids eyes and smile on their face as the Sheriff gives them a popper....the goodness in people. The amazement on people’s face as they realize there are still good people in this world,....the goodness in people. 

I sit in awe as I watch. My heart is renewed, my faith replenished....the goodness in people.

On day three as we ate lunch at a “famous for our country fried steak” place in Texas, we spoke to a family briefly and told them what we do, they thanked us for what we do and went about their business. As we got ready to get our checks and leave the waitress told us our (22 of us) bill had been paid. Moments later we were outside and saw the family, we approached them  and I extended my hand and a heart felt thank you. I couldn’t say much more than that for the crack in my voice and the lump in my throat wouldn’t let me....the goodness in people. There are Good people in this world, all you have to do is look. 

I am ever thankful to be a part of this group that serves to help the children of our community. 

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Day 6 - Steve Tennant

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Day 6 - Steve Tennant

.  Lubbock TX to Deming NM.  Look at it on the map.  It looks like a straight shot west.  Now look at it from Lubbock TX going through Amarillo Tx.   Who does that?   WE DO, it’s what we do.   Look at these pictures of the local weather, now add riding a motorcycle through that in the dark.  Are we crazy?   Yes, crazy about kids.   That’s what we are, heck most of us out here are just crazy kids ourselves with some wisdom. It was cold, wet, dark; and did I mention cold and wet?   Leaving at 6 am in the rain. What were we thinking?  We were on a mission to see a level III NICU with a dedicated air transport team.  Wow, we were like kids at Christmas time.   My roomie was leading the way, he had a plan, and was ready.  He was up early to do the news and excited to get on the road.  My first question to him was did you sleep at all last night.   That energy and excitement was contagious. First hour or so was miserable. Then after a gas stop, coffee and a biscuit (breakfast on the road, left before hotel was serving), the beginning of daylight with still a little rain, but we could see at least.  After a wonderful welcome to Northwest TX hospital in Amarillo we were able to get off the bikes.  Shaking cold and wet, we took pictures with the flight team and toured the hospital NICU.   Seeing those babies and the look on the riders faces   That’s what this ride is about.  We had all but forgot how cold and wet we were just an few minutes ago.   That was only temporary.  These babies will always be a premie.  Some less than 500 grams.  The size of a mans hand and fighting for life only to be hopeful of a chance to be riding a motorcycle in the cold and wet and dark.  We know the road ahead of us is going to be be a long one, so we saddle up again and ride away leaving the mark of miracle riders everywhere in that NICU.  It was a 16 hour day and longer for others.  Thank you to Ryan Chandler and all the staff at Northwestern Hospital for allowing us to visit your facility and the care you give to those babies.  That’s all for today.

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Day 5 (a little late) Steve Tennant

San Antonio to Lubbock TX.  As we were leaving San Antonio I was thinking about the first time I was in San Antonio.   30 years ago this fall, I was at Ft. Sam Houston attending the U.S. Army combat medic course with my brothers and sisters in arms.  As an 18 year old “kid” I was trusted with saving lives.   After multiple deployments including combat zones, my Army career ended.  Now as we, my Miracle Rider brothers, are leaving San Antonio we are challenged with making a difference in one child’s life.  I’m not sure which is bigger responsibility.   We have witnessed the smile on so many kids on the road when they see us and we wave at them or give them a popper or take a picture with them.  We are strangers to each other for only a moment.  I am reminded of the kids back in our own community.  The babies in the NICU who are fighting a battle.   The girls at Girls Inc, the young men at Carpenters Way, the young ladies at Arabella House, the kids with juvenile diabetes, the kids with autism, the kids with cancer and so many others that are in the battle for their life, or to just fit in and make a friend.  We will never be able to walk in your shoes, but through the donations and the miles we are riding, hopefully that path is just a little bit easier to walk.  As an “older” kid (refusing to grow up, just more expensive toys) that challenge is not taken lightly just as it wasn’t 30 years ago.  Please take a moment and think of your past and smile when you are reminded when you made a difference to another.  That’s true happiness.  😃

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To San Antonio - Steve Tennant

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To San Antonio - Steve Tennant

Day 4.   Fort Worth TX to San Antonio TX.   This was a short day of riding which was a treat as it allowed time to see some local attractions.  Visited the Alamo and the River Walk.   So much history in this city, but as always, people want to know who we are and what we are doing.  It’s so exciting to see their faces when we share our story.  Scott has said it for so many years,there are really good people all across the U.S. and we get to meet them every day.   Thats all for today.

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Day 3 - Brian Brock

Great day yesterday Brice...thank you for the ride across Lake Pontchatrain...Sheriff...nice speedy glide into Fort Worth, a little less water would have been better...

It really takes a lot to organize this ride. We start several months in advance. We have a marketing consultant we meet with almost every Wednesday for dinner. (Donates her time) We have media partners that need to plan weeks ahead. We have logistics, like where are we staying each night. You can’t just drop in anywhere with 21 guys and get a room. We have great sponsors, but we had to plan that too. Who’s going to ask? Who DO you ask? What do you ask for? The guys scatter all over town, telling the story, how we help children to get those sponsors. Then we have to plan our personal lives, so we can go out for two weeks. We pay ALL our own expenses, so we need to save up some money. Many of us work, so we need to save a little vacation time. We need to make sure our work continues while we are gone. Country’s doesn’t hang out a sign, “Be back in two weeks”...Hair needs cut, corporate jets need maintenance and somewhere, Grainger customers need their stuff. And this year had some different challenges. Scott was working on the Midnight Express, and we also put on Rockin’ the River, which took a tremendous amount of planning as well. Each of us were trying to take vacations with family, beach trips and other events. The day we pull out on the ride, all the stress is gone, it’s now the easy part, just ride. But there are people (Karen) back in Columbus that have a tremendous amount of work keeping up with us on the road. This is not easy. It takes a ton of effort from a bunch of dedicated people. And all we are trying to do is make a difference in one child’s life. Every bit of planning, every meeting, every phone call is focused on the children. Every decision is made from that lens. What we do is nothing compared to what circumstances the kids we are trying to help face every day. We are trying to tell a story, to capture your mind, to touch your heart, so you can see what we see. The difference we can make is right there. Go ahead and scroll on down to the donate now button. Leave a quick comment here that you too want to join us in making a difference. I’ll have more about the people side of this work tomorrow.

 

Today’s song of the day...Got No Shame by Brother Cane.

 

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Day 3 - Dallas Texas - Steve Tennant

Started off with a very colorful sunrise followed by a brief heavy shower (before leaving the hotel).  Rode west along I-10 for short while with the gulf to the left. Headed North towards Dallas-Fort Worth.  With Mike Jolley at the lead, we knew we were good.  He found a quaint little comfort food buffet place for lunch.  These two boys sure loved their poppers and an anonymous person bought all our lunch.  Thank you. Into Fort-Worth. LARGE bodies of water around us all day, mostly overhead.  In between the showers we able to dry out a bit. 

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Day 2 - Biloxi to Lake Charles - Steve Tennant

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Day 2 - Biloxi to Lake Charles - Steve Tennant

Day two started out with breakfast at Waffle House and a half rainbow just before getting on the bikes.   About 20 minutes down the road was a yard/craft sale with an antique car show. Brice has a passion for antique cars and has a few “projects “ of his own so he did a u turn and back to the car show.   Turned out to be a fundraiser for the middle school cheerleaders.  After some face painting, test drives of new vehicles, rookies making a purchase, and of course walking around the old cars and sharing our story with a few we were back on the road.   Nice ride along the coast for most of the morning to the “bridge”.  If you’ve never been across a 24 mile draw bridge on a motorcycle, I would highly recommend adding it to your bucket list. Oyster house for lunch, continuing West, but on the interstate.  Some big dark clouds, and you immediately see the wall of rain, knowing your gonna get soaked with this one.   Sure enough.  It was cooling and refreshing though.  Continuing Into Lake Charles.  First dinner attempt was Buffalo Wild Wings via hotel shuttle.  We learned of an hour and a half wait.  Scratch that idea.   Call the shuttle back and take us to Darryl’s.  (Called ahead and had reservations).  Ana was a little overwhelmed, but did a good job.  Back to the hotel and get a group text that kickstands up at 7:30, having already had breakfast.  Wait a minute, must be new sheriff in town or at least new leader.  Sheriff is our leader for day 3.   More later.  Steve.

 

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Memphis - Day 1 - Brian Brock

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Memphis - Day 1 - Brian Brock

What a start. Scott and I met at WTVM at 6:15 AM to do the news with Chuck and get the trivia question that would lead us to our destination. I was not worried about it at all. When he mentions blues, I immediately thought of Memphis. As we were still live on the air my phone started blowing up. Thank you Lana Hardy...Biloxi it is. Then we’re at the send off...always a time of reflection. Load up on the bikes and we’re off...finally...but we got one last little surprise. Off our bikes and with a little help from my daughter Katie and lovely wife Linda, we had roses for Karen Cooks birthday. Mission accomplished, we made her cry. I was the lucky one to lead the ride today. It comes with responsibility for the other guys. But mostly it comes with honor. Leading these amazing gentlemen was a humbling experience I will never forget. 

Brice, you’re turn...

Today’s song of the day...Aint Waiting on Tomorrow by Drivin’ N Cryin of course...

 

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Day One and we end up in Biloxi! - Steve Tennant

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Day One and we end up in Biloxi! - Steve Tennant

Day one.  Columbus to Biloxi.  The first day is the hardest for me.   Saying good bye to family and friends at home for an adventure of the unknown, but then the stop at Carver Middle School in Hamilton made it special.   Once Harris County Sheriff let us go at the county line, that’s was it.  We were on our own.   The ride is a lot of jockeying for position until everyone gets settled into their groove.  We got a little of everything today for riding.  Temperature was comfortable through West Point, then onto the interstate it got warm fast.  Then it got hot.   Then a brief shower.   So we got rained on first day.   But that’s okay because we were all dry by the final stop and no mention of the rain by anyone. Brian did a good job leading us here today and tomorrow we have Brice taking the lead so let’s see where he will take us.  Andrew was really glad to get off the bike tonight.  He even went to the hotel restaurant in his socks, no shoes.  All for today.  More tomorrow.

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I'm sure we have forgotten something! - Scott Ressmeyer, 9/20/18

I'm sure we have forgotten something!!!!! I'm also sure that there could be a hundred different ways we could have gone about this trip. I also know that the uncertainty of this ride is unlike anything we have ever done. Then add in the fact that we have 5 new riders this year with a total group of 21 will make for a lot of challenges. With all that being said, as a group their is nothing we can not over come. As we ride out think of the obstacles that were thrown in the path of Andrew. Think of the smile on Martin’s face when he was sitting in that hot tub after going over the pass and Mike C.’s wreck. The stop in Joplin and watching Ronnie dance with his little girl friend and the look on her face the following year we came back.  A wrong turn that brought us To Bonesteel SD. My hope is that we have all new experiences that the new guys get to witness and understand why this happens. We need to just let it unfold and it will take us down the right road as it always does. I can not think of anyone else I would want to take on this journey with other then my miracle rider brothers.

Scott

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Memories - Ken Tidwell

Hello everyone please forgive my writing skills because I have none.

Over the Holidays I told a story to some of my brothers about the events of my first Miracle Ride and in particular an event that happened afterward. You see I hadn’t been a person that anyone would call on for help, well except for my ole buddy Don. Anyway back in 2014 before the Miracle Ride had kicked off I mentioned to Gary McDowell that if there was a spot for another rider I’d love to go. Seemed like the next day Scott was calling me;  what a life changing event happened then. The Ride was pretty much what everyone tells you, Hot, Cold, Wet, Long, but what you don’t hear being told is the aches and pains of the first week or so. Yes! We all have them, but looking back it’s nothing in comparison to what it’s being done for! Sorry! Let me get back on track here, as many of you know in 2014 we were working to reach a goal for the Children’s Miracle Network at our hospital here in Columbus, Ga. and The PEOPLE of COLUMBUS and SUROUNDING AREAS did an amazing job in support, but it wasn’t until after that ride when I realized what I had gotten myself into.

Even though you raise money to go to the support of your community hospital not all circumstances can be covered. Well I know I’m stretching it out a bit but as an organization grows they put in place rules that must be followed and my story begins here. The Riders were just getting settled at home back to the grind, the hustle and bustle when the help call comes. (Remember the guy that doesn’t get help calls?) A nurse at the hospital had a patient that  touched her in such a way that she wanted to share with the Miracle Riders and ask for help.. The patient was a young man 18, from a semi broken home who had been diagnosed with stage 4 brain cancer. In the time that he had been in the hospital he and the nurse shared stories. But one moved her so much she reached out to The Riders for help. With everything this young man had going on, he shared that if only he had an Ipad he could stay in touch with his friends while going through treatment and spending so much time in the hospital. The nurse loaned her I pad to the young man. Now back to rules, there’s no way that this young man was going to get an “I”anything during this time of need, Ipads don’t cure cancer but in this case there was a heart that needed his friends. I believe the nurse saw the young man looking for a lifeline to help him through. A call to The Miracle Riders was made and within hours they had the money for the IPad and all the stuff that goes with it. Once telling the Miracle Riders about the young man we had to meet him. The day we met the young man we were all dressed in hats and dusters walking into his hospital room to surprise him with a new Ipad but got a surprise of our own. The young man was being released, there was nothing more the hospital could do. He and his girlfriend were so excited to see us but it was us that were even more excited that we didn’t miss meeting him. The young man left the hospital to return to his loving grandmother. The Miracle Riders visited several weeks later as the young man went four wheeling in heaven. I tell this story because of the impact my Miracle Rider Family has had on me. This group of brothers touches me to the core.

(Heath died about 6 months after receiving his IPad. His grandmother said he was never without it until the day he passed away. The Miracle Riders attended his funeral.)

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Reflections - Scott Ressmeyer

Reflections, no not the kind you see in the mirror in the morning that scare the hell out of you cause you can’t believe you have gotten this old. Reflections of your life for this past year, that’s the one I’m referring to. Now that I’m sitting here writing this some of this year's past events scared the hell out of me as well. In the first few months of 2017 we had made the decision to ride to the Arctic Circle and back. What the hell was I thinking? Then one by one as we went around the room 16 of the guys raised their hand and said they were up for the challenge of the Arctic Ride, what the hell were they thinking? 

So on the morning of July 21st our adventure started, 14 bikes with one of those being a rookie and 2 guys in a chase truck. It was an incredible send off, thanks to Synovus and a whole lot of supporters. At the end of the first day we all had a pretty good idea that none of us knew what the hell we were thinking and we were in this for 20 more days;  some of the most challenging riding any of us have ever done. It’s safe to say that we had all lost our mind and with age you would think we would have more sense about us than to take off to the Arctic on a bunch of motorcycles.

Reflections!!!!! A different kind of hell, the kind that you for the most part have no control over. You see on July 21st the same day as we were leaving I’m sure somewhere a child woke up that morning as well and started his own adventure. Only theirs was not one like most of us have ever experienced. Good chance no one was even in the house when they got up or if they were they were only there to do some kind of harm to them. Sometimes this harm is physical and sometimes it’s emotional but it is harm to a child no less. You see at the end of our hard day we laugh and share our stories of the road but at the end of an abused child’s day they lay alone in their room and try to forget what the past day has brought to them. When the sun rises we all jump on the bike and eagerly head off into to the vast unknown. For the abused child they secretly hope the sun does not come up for fear of what the road of life will bring, my guess it’s always the same just a different kind of hell.

The reflection in the mirror, it’s me and I ask myself did we tell the story that needed to be told did we share enough with our community about the challenges that some kids have? It was easy to tell the story about the kids in the hospital. Also the kids in the hospital are surrounded by people who care for and love them. The kids that we are riding for this year are surrounded by darkness and fear. If you shut off the lights the reflections go away in the darkness. I feel it is our job as we go thru this next year to keep the light on. To help change what a abused child sees in their reflections as they look in the mirror. To understand that yes I came from a place of hell but I can crawl out of its grip and make a life for myself and that I can make something for my life, and there are good people in this world and I am loved.

So as I reflect I know my work is not done yet for this cause and hopefully a chance to make a difference in one child’s life. There are a lot more stories to tell and a lot more roads to travel. Hopefully we will see you on the road as we take on the Mr. Magoo ride the last half of 2018

 

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Christmas 2017 - Mike Langford

In January of 2017 one of our grand daughters had a baby girl, Sarah. This is by no means the first little person to come into the family, but it is the first in a long time. And since I decided to leave the wonderful world of work several years ago, I have had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with Sarah during her first year.

We keep her two days a week while Mom and Dad work. Sarah has gone from a tiny thing to almost too much to pick up. Mom brought her over the first time, she set her carrier down and Sarah woke up. She looked at me and smiled the biggest smile, almost like "hey Pop-Pop, glad to see you, lets play". She still does that when she wakes up and she has added waving both hands at the same time. 

She at first just kinda layed around and rolled over sometime and looked at things, pushed her toys and banged on her little piano. Now she is walking all over, looking at everything, exploring, loves to touch new things, open cabinets, pull out pots, and throw her magazines Grandma gave her on the floor. We used to hold her to feed her, now she is in the high chair and has discovered a new game, "uh-oh". Put something in front of her and look away, she throws it on the floor and tries to say "uh-oh" cause she knows I will pick it up. And she looks so innocent.

From day one she has napped laying on my chest at least once a day. And if I go out of the room she will look where I went till I come back. Sometime she will just come over, put her arms around my neck and give me a hug and pat my shoulder.

Do I sound like a proud Great Grandpa? Of course I do 'cause I am. She is wonderful and we spend many hours playing on the floor, looking at trees and deer outside, and just having fun.

So why am I telling you this? Cause the thought struck me today that a lot of Grandpas and Great Grandpas don't get to experience a lot of this. A lot of kids are laying in hospital beds. Too sick for too long to enjoy or even to be able to do what Sarah does. And often even after going home they can't play and run around. 

And the Grandpas can just look and hope that one day it will be better and they will get to hold that little one.

We have tried to help reunite some Grandpas with the little ones in the past by riding all over the country to raise money and awareness. This past year we tried to help out the older kids at Our House. They need our help, and yours, just as much as the little ones, many of them don't even have Grandpas to hang out with.

This year we will spread the word about Our House again and let everyone know how they too can help. And even tho' Our House is our main goal, we will still think about the little ones that we rode for so many times, and try to make a difference in some of those lives also.

So in 2018 we will ride again and this time I am dedicating my ride to all the Grandpas and Great Grandpas. They need to be able to sit and hold that grand child and make complete fools of themselves making noise like a 10 month old or just sit with one of the kids at Our House and talk.

 I know you Grandpas are out there and we will do the best we can.

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Get moved by what can happen. Brian Brock, Christmas 2017

Read this at your own risk. It's going to get political. It's going to get racial. It's going to get you thinking. And it sure as hell is going to get real.

I love this country, with all my heart. I also love football. Next to auto racing it's my favorite sport. One of the absolute best shows on TV is A Football Life on the NFL Network. It tells the WHOLE story of famous football players. From childhood, to NFL stardom to the Hall of Fame, and unfortunately sometimes the bad places poor decisions can leave you. I have players I love, I have players I can't stand. But when you see the long odds some of these players face, and their ability to have that singular focus to make their dreams come true, it causes you to reflect.

I watch the NFL. I told you I love football. Colin Kaepernick decided to make a statement during the national anthem. President Trump thought he should weigh in to stir the pot. The NFL Commissioner and the owners all wanted to get on this negativity train. I've had my moments with the anthem. My family knows very well where I stand. To keep peace, we typically just turn the channel, or I leave the room. When I am at a live event, I stand respectfully, but really don't like the creative license some "performers" take with the song. I love football. You are not going to politicize it, and take it away from me. If you choose not to watch the NFL, that's fine, I love football. I enjoy it, entertain me. Step away from Facebook for a minute, have an original thought and look for the good. STOP PAINTING WITH A BIG BRUSH AND BROAD STROKES. STOP THE NEGATIVITY. YOU. STOP.

Today I just watched an episode of A Football Life. It was about Aeneas Williams, an outstanding corner back. In college he focused on his studies, didn't even play football until his junior year. He played on some pretty bad teams, never complained. He wound up in the Hall of Fame. He actually wrote his obituary. If you know the end, it makes everything else getting to the end goal easier. He talks about dying empty. Think about that one. Die empty. That means you got all you could out of this life. You met your potential. You did all you could, left it all here. That puts "all in" to a new light.

In 2014, Michael Brown was killed by a police officer in Ferguson MO. His killing sparked racial unrest in Ferguson. At the time, Aeneas Williams and his wife were serving a church in St Louis. The mayor of Ferguson reached out and asked him for help. Aeneas went into the community. He wanted to listen, learn and see what he could do. Mr. Williams was born in New Orleans. His parents were both in the home, and well educated. As he met with the youth in the area, he really had a difficult time understanding their situation. Many of them without fathers, some raising themselves. He wanted to understand their perspective. As he was meeting them on the street, and he finally understood where he could help, he told them, "don't get stuck by what's happened, get moved by what can happen". I had to stop the show, rewind it, and make sure I heard what he just said, blew me away. He is there in that community, showing everyone, black and white, to "get moved by what can happen".

I was born a white kid in rural northern Indiana. I don't have a lot of perspective of southern racial interaction. I don't need it. Aeneas Williams has shown me what to do. How can I help the kids at The Methodist Youth home "get moved by what can happen". That's all the perspective I need. How can you help them get moved? I'll talk to anybody, anytime, anywhere about these kids. I need to tell their story, and show them how to get moved by what can be.

 

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Feeling appreciation!! Thank you Alison Evans; Our House CEO

Dear Miracle Makers -   I wanted to write and make sure as many of you, your families, and wonderful friends saw this post. 

OUR children are truly blessed by you!  2017 saw the Miracle Ride of all RIDES...the ARCTIC CIRCLE!  Your commitment went further, harder, longer than any before...and we are so blessed by you!
Thank you for your perseverance, your dedication and your love for our teens!  The kids we work with often believe they are on their journey alone.  You proved to them that the most challenging journeys often lead to the most valuable rewards.  You example also showed them that "together is better than alone." 
So as Christmas draws near - thank you for being "together with them".  Your sacrifices, and the constant support of your families and friends, not only taught us valuable lessons for life, but also made a significant, HUGE, WONDERFUL gift of financial support to make OUR children's lives so much better. 
Words alone cannot convey our gratitude for choosing to support  OUR HOUSE!  I wish you could see my heart - it is exploding with THANKS for your AMAZING love and support.
May GOD bless and protect each of you - YOUR gift is for HIS children and we are truly blessed.
MERRY, MERRY Christmas! - Warmly, Alison

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