May 19, 2008
Ft. Myers, FL
Written by Trey Flowers
Texas Christian University
Today was another long and hard ride spanning the endless roads under the hot Florida sun. As we passed more roadside alligators and Florida orange trees, all was well until we turned into a bitter headwind that cut our pace in half. We were rushed to get to our arrival at the Lee County ARC (LARC) in Ft. Myers, but we were reminded why it was all worth it once we finally got there. The ride ended well through the beautiful town as we rode along the beach and through the palm trees into our stage-up.
The LARC was one of our most exciting arrivals yet – there were hundreds of enthusiastic clients there waiting for us, and they screamed with all their might to let us know how much we were appreciated. The applause and cheering was more than enough to let us feel that our struggles to get to Ft. Myers were miniscule compared to the struggles faced by people with disabilities on a daily basis. After a very filling lunch (foot long Subway sandwiches for everyone!), we toured the facilities and saw their accessible woodshop, arts and crafts rooms, cafeteria, and classrooms. One of the stops on the tour was a class that was learning about what to do in case another hurricane came to Florida, and all of the clients knew a whole lot more about it than I did – I was impressed!
After showering and a much appreciated nap, we went on to what was my favorite friendship visit of the trip so far at the Sunrise Community of Southwest Florida. The moment we arrived, a woman named Lisa repeatedly screamed with excitement “oh my gosh” as she met each one of us. She was our most enthusiastic supporter and wanted to dance with all of us (especially Alex Alessandro) and ‘interview’ us in front of everyone. Other clients challenged us to arm wrestling contests and a basketball game after dinner, making it a great friendship visit all around and one of the most rewarding days of Gear Up Florida.
On a personal note, I’d like to thank all of my incredible sponsors for their inspiring generosity and support throughout this journey. Most of all, I am constantly amazed by the endless dedication of my mother who has helped my Push America endeavors in every possible way – thanks for everything, and I love you with all my heart. I can only hope that my journey from Ft. Myers will offer the world as much hope as yours has since you left this town so many years ago.