The California Coast Classic is an 8-day, 525 mile ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles. This event is organized by the Arthritis Foundation in an effort to raise funds for arthritis research, education and community programs. According to the CCC’s website:
“More than a quarter of a million children in the U.S. have some form of arthritis. It can start as early as infancy and will last a lifetime. Juvenile arthritis is medically different from the adult form and in many cases is more severe. It can cause joint deformities and affect a child skin, eyes and internal organs. As a national voluntary health agency, the Arthritis Foundation seeks to improve life through leadership in the prevention, control, and cure of arthritis and related diseases. Since 1948, the Foundation has spent in excess of $200 million to support more than 1,700 scientists and physicians in arthritis research programs specifically for the study of pediatric and adult rheumatic diseases. The Arthritis Foundation also provides educational research to help adults, parents and children manage their arthritis by providing a large number of community-based services nationwide to make life with arthritis easier.” (http://www.californiacoastclassic.org/)
We are proud to announce that the participants rode in our daughter E’s honor for the first leg of the trip (San Francisco to Santa Cruz). E was one of eight children who were chosen as honorees along the 8 day 525 mile ride. As an honoree, E and our family (including both sets of grandparents) were invited to the CCC kick off events which included a dinner and the send off the following morning. The AF asked me to make a short video to show at the kick off dinner…please take just 4 minutes and watch it:
I wrote about this event for our family blog. Here is a (long) expert from that post:
At 6pm they had a cocktail hour, followed by a dinner for all the AF staff, volunteers and riders. It was a little overwhelming as there must have been maybe 250 people there. There were over 170 riders alone!
Some different people went up to speak as we finished up our meals. They began by showing THIS VIDEO made by the 16-18 year olds at the JA conference in DC this past July. Then the president of our local chapter introduced our family and Esella and spoke about us a bit and then they showed the VIDEO I MADE . And at the end we had the opportunity to speak to the group. Since I am not exactly in love with public speaking, Justin spoke on behalf of all of us to thank the riders and the AF for everything, as well pointing out how we need more ped rheumys and more research for this disease. There were so many things we would have liked to have said…but we knew that it was late and the riders needed to get their sleep.
Afterwords it was like a mob scene for us. We had so many people come up to introduce themselves and want to meet E. Flashes were going off like crazy as pictures were being taken left and right. One man, a rider, came up to me and told me that he got into this bike ride several years ago for himself…something to help him lose weight and stay active. He told me that my video made him cry. That it was heart breaking and that he now knows why he is riding. He is riding for E and all the kids like her. He thanked me several times and I thanked him as well for riding for my daughter. It was a really touching moment that will stay in my heart. I am tearing up now thinking about it.
Justin had a similar experience with another rider. When he asked him what his reason for riding is, he said “I have a reason now.”
We were also so blessed to meet another family whose daughter is an honoree this year. Colleen is a woman whom I “met” as part of an online support system for parents with JA. Her daughter Cailtin has the severe form of JA referred to as Systemic JA (aka Stills Disease). This type can attack organs and causes high fevers, rashes, joint pain and swelling. Caitlin’s story is not mine to tell, but she is one brave, strong young lady. Colleen and her family started participating in the AF’s walks many years ago and their team, the Princess Parade has raised over $200,000 dollars for the foundation!!! This family is AMAZING and such an inspiration. Colleen and her family are very well respected in the JA parent community and so many people strive to be like them. This year, Colleen’s husband Dave is taking part of the CCC for the first time. As they said in their VIDEO they are taking the “Princess Parade on the road.”
Colleen is blogging about Dave’s trip and also wrote a post about the CCC kick off. You can read it HERE
In addition to meeting Colleen, Caitlin and Dave, we also were so lucky to meet another Honoree, Alexa, and her family. Alexa has got to be one of the most mature and poised young ladies I have ever met. She was AMAZING with Esella and Esella just LOVED both Alexa and Caitlin. Alexa’s mother and I spoke for a while on Saturday and it seems her story started out so much like Esella’s. I hope that my E will grow up to be like Alexa and Caitlin. So strong, respectful and resilient.
So Saturday morning we got up early to see the riders off. We clapped and cheered until the last of the 170+ riders took off and headed on their 525 mile journey down the coast in honor of these three amazing girls, as well as the other five honorees and the rest of the nearly 300,000 children in the US suffering from JA.
It was, well, an honor that our baby girl was one of the eight selected to be an honoree this year for the California Coast Classic bike tour. We honestly had a great time, and feel blessed that of we have to be here in the world of JA, that we at least can be surrounded by amazing people. SO far the tour has raised nearly $900,000 (that is what we were told at the kick off). We would LOVE to see it break a million!
Here is a picture of E with two of the other Honoree’s
Please check out the CCC’s website for more information, and how you can help this very important cause.