Angels Unite

Angels Unite
Angels Unite

Friday, October 4, 2013

Day 700/700: May the yellow jersey go to all the HLH Angels and Warriors out there

Yellow Jersey is defined by my friend Wiki as, in the Tour de France (most recognized cycling event in the world), "the leader of the general classification wears the yellow jersey".

Although in any regular Tour the Yellow Jersey would have gone to Bolt (Justin) for being the only one who finished every single mile of the 700 mile "joy" ride and who did it without breaking a sweat.  Although Energizer Bunny (Doug) would also deserve a yellow jersey for perseverance.  Knowing Bolt and Energizer Bunny they would have quickly denied this glorious jersey and rightfully re-gifted it to the true heroes for which we cycle, namely all the HLH Angels and Warriors out there who fought and fight hard.

Courtesy of the Matthew and Andrew Akin Foundation

The last day was a rather emotional one and very confusing.  We were happy to be off the saddle (my tooshy was very happy) but sad that this journey was ending.  During the rides, we cried, we laughed, we used words we would never repeat in front of our kids (good thing I swear in dutch so everyone thought I was describing my happiness climbing hills), we tried to support each other when things were getting hard due to painful memories or just physical limitations, we thought often of the angels, we send much positive thoughts to those fighting today and we remembered our own kids' journeys or, in the case of Sean, his own painful journey through the horrible HLH experience.  A true camaraderie was formed among all of us bound by the same illness yet despite the different outcomes.  The ride was one of healing, remembrance, awareness and support.

We had accidents, physical breakdowns, rain, sun, hills and HILLS and more HILLS, dogs and lots of them, bike breakdowns, stinking road kill, fire ants (love them little critters) and rattle snakes (Yikes!), but despite these limitations at least one of us made it to the finish line.  Oops!  Cat is out of the bag (love US expressions - Who keeps cats in bags?).  Let me re-phrase, we all made it to the finish line and we all did 700 miles but not necessarily on a bike.  Some of us got off the bike to walk the hill, some had bike problems or physical limitations and thus were car-pooled around for a few miles.  But one thing is certain when we fell we got back up on the bike regardless of the limitations.  The point being that we all crossed the finish line with Bolt at Cincinnati Childrens Hospital, where the global HLH Center of Excellence resides.

Here is a clip of what Cincinnati Childrens organized to welcome us.  Nurses, doctors, HLH families, friends, family, our spouses and medical support staff all came to welcome us on our arrival.  We even had a doctor ride with us the last day, you go Ashish!!  This is what I always loved about this hospital, they care, they appreciate and they want to help.

Congratulations!!!! Bolt (Justin) leads the pack to the finish line.

The Akin Foundation team raised $100k.  Thank you to all!!!

My best surprise was... wify, aka V, surprised me at the finish line although she told me for weeks now that because of the kids' school and Miabelle's fevers she could not meet me in Cincinnati.  "What do you mean you cannot come to Cincinnati to see your husband finish the HLH700 (European Translation HLH1100)?"  A la New Yorker: "Are you kiddin'me?"  For 700 miles I tortured my brain with the disappointment that I would be finishing the tour hugging a tree instead of my wife.  And trust me we saw enough trees on them hills to the point I do not desire to hug a tree for comfort.  But that little Puerto Rican from The Bronx surprised me together with our Cincy Angels and family, Rick and Libby.  It was an amazing and emotional surprise, it took me awhile to realize V was standing in front of me. wait ... your surprise is coming when you won't expect it.  mmmmmm...isn't that the point of a surprise?  Thanks honey for coming, I won't forget that is for sure.  Blew me away... I love surprises!

The girls and mama made a poster!  V waiting with Cincy Angel Libby.

The arrival was amazing, like heroes on bikes we rode through a crowd cheering our arrival.  It felt great to do good.  But what was more amazing was the heartfelt speech of Bolt (Justin) and the check he handed over to the president of Cincinnati Childrens for a whooping 100,000$ in benefit of the HLH Center of Excellence.  We in name of all those inflicted with the HLH experience thank you, all them unsung heroes who gifted to our cause, for your generosity, support and kindness in helping us making certain more children get to live to see another sunrise.  We all reached our fundraising goals thanks to you.  Thank you!!!

If you still wonder why we cycle, this is why we cycle: Hannah 5 year HLH survivor with Sophia HLH Warrior at the HLH Conference dinner kick off at the Cincinnati Zoo.  Help us save kids like Sophia!!!  Fighting we will and we hope some of you readers will join us next year because the more riders, the more support, the more children will be called survivors.  You go Hannah and Sophia, keep inspiring us!

Priceless: Hannah 5 year HLH survivor with Sophia HLH Warrior.

The ride was fun and ended with a beautiful bang but all riders would agree when I say that there was no greater honor to cycle next to the fathers who lost their children (Matthew and Andrew Akin as well as Annie Myers) to this illness as well as Iron Man Sean from Canada, a HLH and BMT survivor, who despite injuries and his hip replacement kept going through rain, sun, dogs and hills.  Take it away Sean for all them HLH warriors who need some inspiration:

A word to all them HLH warriors by Sean HLH Survivor.

Hannah, Sophia, Maya, Mira, William, Miabelle and Sean,
keep inspiring the world and all them HLH families.

Your strength gives us hope.

PS: To Patrick, our HLH Cyclist in spinning classes, we are done riding now, you can stop spinning :)  Thanks for your commitment to us and your friend Bolt (Justin).

Some picks:
 Sean upon arrival

 Cyclist in disbelieve of the crowd that should up

 Bolt (Justin) with Dr. Filipovich

 Some of the heroes of the day

 Papa... or the elephants in Cincy Zoo who showed up for dinner.

See you next year again on the HLH700!!!

Sleepy sleep,

1 comment:

  1. Wat een prestatie Olivier..daar kun je trots op zijn! Het financieele resultaat is ook lang niet mis!