My name is Mary. I am the other half of the Spirit of America Ride for Hydrocephalus. I am a true Floridian with the unique ability to say I was born in Florida. However, my father, my hero, was in the Air Force so, as an Air Force brat, I also lived in Germany, France and Massachusetts. You could say my entire family has always had wanderlust.
I grew up in a typical, conservative Catholic family. That, coupled with the military influence, instilled in me the importance of following the rules, planning for the future, and doing what was expected of me. I married, had a child and raised a family right on schedule. But my life lacked inspiration. I was simply in a rut until one day last spring, during a conversation with my best friend and cycling buddy, Mark, we both confessed we were somewhat bored with the routine of life. We realized we shared the same craving for change. Once the idea was born, it began to take on a life of its own and there was no going back!
I think what we are planning to do is exciting, something I imagine many people, secretly, would like to do. But this idea of ours to pack it all up and strike out for new places isn’t courageous or amazing. I do not think so. Survivors of breast cancer are amazing. American war heroes who return disabled yet give selflessly to achieve and assist others, or a child courageously living with hydrocephalus, enduring countless surgeries to relieve the pressure on her brain…they are the amazing ones. Those are my heroes.
Are Mark and I doing the right thing to give up all our possessions and walk away from the lives we have known? In a couple of days, we’ll take off on bikes without whole a lot of planning or concern for what we will do next. I do not know if we should be called courageous or foolish. It’s certainly not heroic but the opportunity to raise money for the Hydrocephalus Association makes this about more than just us.
None of us has the assurance that we have even the next minute to live. Maybe this is why people who have faced and overcome truly life challenging, even life threatening circumstances are heroes to the rest of us. They embrace the uncertainty most of us try not to acknowledge as we plan and live our lives. My mother often talked about all the places she wanted to visit but she died at 46 without fulfilling any of her dreams. So do I want to sit around worrying or just grab these handlebars and do something different? Faced with this choice (and someone crazy enough to go with me), and the fantastic opportunity to raise awareness and funds for a cause so dear to me, and the wanderlust I inherited from my dad, my own hero, I’m going to do it! My father is also gone now, but I think he is looking down and I think he would tell me to go.
Mark did a video on all the items we must pack for our 50 day journey. We are almost finished with all the packing with the bikes ready to go. Keep tuned to see if we accomplished this packing feat!
You can follow our journey on Twitter or other social media channels to receive updates in the coming weeks and to learn more about hydrocephalus and how you can support the Hydrocephalus Association.