Day 67 - Washington DC
**Editors Note -- this journal does not follow the archetypal journal entry. Consider this a direct letter from the Project Manager of the North Route. **
Waking up in Bethesda is a morning that we’ve been anticipating all summer long. It’s the day that the team’s hard work and commitment for the summer pay off. As the Project Manager of this year’s route, I preached peaking at the right time, continually improving on a daily basis, and today is the day it all comes to fruition.
The morning came quicker than expected. The team was weary form the evening’s final team meeting and final words. The last morning wake up playlist came through the speakers at 6:00 AM sharp. As the PM I could see that team was acting a little different than normal. There was a sense of anticipation, excitement, and hesitation. Hesitant because we all knew that in a few short hours, we would all go our separate ways.
The team circled up in front of the Landen School. Everyone pulled out their cameras and took pictures of the board so they could remember the fact that after it was all said and done, the board finally read “Day 67, destination: Washington D.C.”. Our final team prayer was handled by Derek Dedeker. To say it was emotional would be an understatement. The love for the team is tangible. The team has worked so hard throughout the summer, the bar was set high and the team achieved at all levels. Every word in Derek’s prayer carried a sense of truth, humility, and pride.
The disability of the day was dedicated to all the individuals we met this summer that truly touched our lives. We are so blessed and fortunate to be given this opportunity see the true abilities of all people. Shortly after the final circle-up and lodging photo, the team gathered in pace lines and took off. The ride into stage was a short 9 mile trek into the city.
The team met up with the Build America team and the Trans America and South Route at our stage up location in a court yard of The University of George Washington. After roughly two hours of photos, team chants, and reminiscing on hilarious summer stories, it was time to get into the Capitol arrival pace line.
As we approached the Capitol, it was obvious that there was a huge crowd gathered at its base. You could hear the yelling and screaming of the friends and family as the team came into view. It was difficult not to get chocked up as team members spotted their loved ones and began to tear up. All four teams got into picture formation for the last time and prepared for the welcome celebration to begin.
It truly was a sight to see. These four teams have touched so many lives over this summer; it was amazing to see the love and support from those who made the trek out to Washington D.C. to witness the teams complete their journey.
Chad Coltrane, the CEO of Push America, welcomed the audience and kicked off the ceremony. The top fund-raisers for this summer were brought forward and recognized . Three of the four named were from the north route; Saurabh Mehta, Michael Walton, and Derek Dedeker.
Before I knew it, my time to speak on behalf of the North Route. I wanted my speech to convey the sense of pride and joy I have for the team, how excited I was for their achievement, how much love I saw within the team. It was important that the audience know how they continually sought to get better, day after day. I wanted people to know they rode ever possible mile and always willing to humble themselves for one another.
I spoke about a day of struggles, a day that the team was not expecting to be difficult, but was arguably the hardest of the summer. My message was simple. Just like any challenge thrown at this group, they triumphed and continued to push themselves to get better. This was the theme of this route, at no point in time was there a sense of complacency and it was important that the audience know that.
Within minutes, it seemed as if the arrival ceremony was finished. The Capitol lawn was a flood of pictures ensued, hugs, tears, and laughter.
The banquette began at 5:30, but most of the team was there by 5. The North route named Michael Walton of Texas Christian University the recipient of the 2013 Bruce Rogers Award, given to the member who best exemplifies the ideals of Push America. Michael was a rock-star all summer. He pushed the team and was simply the glue that held the team together.
After the all team slideshow, the North Route was invited to the stage by Chad to close out the evening with one last choreographed dance to Cascada “Everytime We Touch” Final pictures, reunion promises, and goodbye hugs ensued and it seemed as if as soon as the most anticipated day of the summer begun, it was over.
It is difficult to express how proud I am of this team. From the beginning of the trip the bar was set extremely high. I wanted the crew and cyclist to continually push themselves to be better. We constantly addressed our own weaknesses feeling that if we did so, we would be stronger as a team. The team bought in, they rode every possible mile, and they gave every ounce of energy on a daily basis. It was incredible to see the growth and love that came out of this summer. There is no doubt that these men will move forward and help bring the spirit of Push America to their respective communities.
Project Manager JOH North 2013