On June 26, we rolled into a small town in Oregon, down a windy road, and up a gravel drive way to be met with a grinning woman waving us over to our parking spot.
This is MJ, a woman who has hosted the team year after year, and has found great pleasure in doing so. But the pleasure is all ours. Her home is practically Eden— there are flowers everywhere, strawberries in the garden, blackberries in the wild, a river to swim in, amazing food to eat.
I say all of this to say how grateful I am to have spent two nights at her home. She opened her house up to us, but this seems like a theme for MJ’s life.
Tom and Colleen are two strangers we met that we’re staying with MJ the second night of our stay. They came, ate, and gathered with us as we ate burgers, salad, Coleslaw, and ice cream. They became much more than strangers as the night went on. We talked about work, politics, vacation, Pedal, Ford, and shared stories about family, loss, love, and life.
Tom and Colleen were actually there to collect his mothers belongings and spread her ashes in the place she loved. As Tom was dealing with the logistical things that come along with death that I am far too familiar with, he had to publish her obituary. As the amazing woman that his mother seemed to be, she wrote her own. At the bottom of the obituary, Tom announced to us that he would be using Pedal the Pacific as the beneficiary of the memorial of his mother. I say there with tears streaming down my face at 8:30 AM as he spoke of the way his mom would have loved us and the mission of Pedal. He spoke of our meeting being a sort of divine intervention composed by his mother.
We’ve been met with so many of these stories: a man having a late friend that was a victim of sex trafficking, the man whose driveway we used to turn around, the woman who saw us at a lunch rest stop, all giving some odd dollars that were in their wallet; the countless food donations; all of our host families; the friendly honks and thumbs up from cars driving past.
There is something incredibly honorable about giving anything you can in that moment.
So, thank you. Thank you to everyone who has given $1,000,000 or $1, given us a meal or a bed to lay in, even a friendly honk or a thumbs up. Thank you for giving all you could in that moment, for championing the fight against sex trafficking along with us. Thank you for the endless support. These words feel inept and inaccurate, but I may this be an offering of the gratitude that I feel. I am so beyond thankful.