It is my belief you can never overuse the words thank you. There is always something to be grateful for (it’s just more difficult to see and believe when times are hard). Today, I’m thankful for the generosity of others.
When I made the roster for Rio, my first two thoughts were “here comes the hardest training of my life” and “time to make sure we can make the trip possible for Andrew.” When we got home from the Paralympic trials, I immediately took to exploring my options. I looked into the host hotel, asked others where their families would be staying, checked and rechecked flight options, and talked about only having Andrew coming for a portion of the event. We ultimately agreed upon having Andrew travel just for the time trial and road race, knowing that we could finagle to make it work.
But then I got to thinking about the 3K individual pursuit on the track, my first competition the day following opening ceremonies. About the emotions that will be roaring through my veins as I step out onto the track. About how the last four years have culminated to this moment in time; all the blood, sweat and tears it took to get to this point. And about how much I want Andrew there to experience that moment – and those emotions – with me. He’s been a part of this journey virtually since the beginning (we met only three months after my first paracycling race).
He had to be there. I wanted to surprise Andrew, to thank him for the hours he has put in on the bike with me and the shoulder he has been in the times I struggled with cycling. To go the whole time would make the trip even more expensive – and ultimately not possible – for us with the time away from work for both of us, and I knew, if I wanted to surprise him, I would need help. So I took to crowdfunding and set up a GoFundMe page to help raise some money to make it possible for Andrew to be in Rio from opening ceremonies to closing ceremonies.
I had hoped for anything to help alleviate the expense, but had no idea how successful it would be. Not only have we had a number of friends and family donate, we have been fortunate – blessed – enough to have a few teams donate and have our favorite bagel shop, 42nd Street Bagel, hold a fundraiser in our honor and donate 20% of the proceeds (which ended up being $600) to our fund!
The resulting outpouring of love is shocking, humbling and indescribable. I cannot thank everyone enough to know that Andrew will be there to cheer me on. I cannot put what it will mean to have him there into words other than it means the world to me.