It has officially been two whole weeks since I completed Gear Up Florida. I had wanted to write a post that sort of wrapped everything up a little bit earlier but I have been pretty busy since arrival. On the way home back from the airport my dad informed me that we had finally rented our house in Warrenton. This led to a busy week of packing, moving, and storing stuff. Just now I am starting to feel that I am getting back into a rhythm. Now I can breathe, relax, plan ahead, and reflect. Most importantly I can reflect on the rollercoaster ride I have been on called Gear Up Florida. It has been a great ride that went by really quickly, one that I will remember for the rest of my life. All the work and effort I have put in has been paid off many times over. I started off not quite sure if I had signed up for something I could handle. To now stand back and see what I have accomplished is really satisfying.
I have never been prouder to be part of Pi Kappa Phi. Being part of Gear Up Florida opened me up to a whole new dimension of what we do and what we accomplish. I treasure all the new friendships I have made on this trip. Gear Up Florida brought together brothers from across the whole country uniting us to help people with disabilities.
From the start of the trip I was impressed by how well it was run. Josh Sheffler, Director of Team Events started out the trip in a professional manner by presenting the policies and procedures and setting up the ground rules. Safety was stressed as the number one priority. I have to tell you I felt safer on the Florida roads than on the W&OD trail here in Virginia. We had a great crew that scouted out the route the day before each ride. On every turn a van was stopped making sure we made the right turn. A van was always ahead of the leading paceline and a van was always behind the last group of cyclists. Stations were set up about every 7 miles where we could get hydrated and get food for energy.
The best thing about the trip was the friendship visits. In a typical arrival, all of the cyclists would form a double paceline. We would ride in, glimmering in the Florida sun while crowd cheered us on. We then got to interact with everybody. Everyone would welcome us with open arms. The people we met were so positive and full of life; we got as much joy from the visits as they did from us. These visits taught me the importance of seeing a person in their abilities before their disability. I now hope I can go back home, speak to family and friends and spread awareness and encourage empathy rather sympathy when engaging with people with disabilities.