Thursday, August 5, 2010
Normally, my blogs are about homeless issues. Not today's. It was a surreal moment when at one of the many California Missions we have encountered along the way, we came across a group of young men on bikes. Now I am not one to stop and ogle men, especially ones my sons ages. In their modest white with green lettering uniforms, I don't think these tall, muscular, handsome young men actually stood out to anyone but me, but something about these young men caught my eye.
As I got closer to one of them who was taking a sip from his water bottle, I noticed the message they were carrying. "R.O.M.P. Range of Motion Project. Riding from Oregon to Guatemala." At the same time I finished reading his shirt, he finished reading mine. "I am walking through all 50 states to end homelessness. What are YOU doing?"
I smiled and said "Are you really?"
He smiled and said "Are you really?"
"I am," I replied.
"I am," he said in return. We shook hands, gave each other a hug and wished each other well. That was it. The end of our conversation which took place close to a month ago.
As I near the border of Mexico, and the end of the first phase of this now 50 state stroll, for some reason these men are still on my mind. They have completed their ride and may very well be relaxing in their homes at this very moment. All I know is even though this is not about the homeless, my walk is more about "doing the right thing", therefore, today, I share their story.
Riding For ROMP 2010, is a 3,500 mile bicycle trek from Eugene, Oregon to Zacapa, Guatemala to raise both awareness and funds for amputee projects in Haiti and Guatemala. But nothing could tell the story of why they do this more than the following excerpt from their blog.
Wow! Riding for ROMP's kick off event from Skinner Butte Park, Eugene, Or last Saturday was a huge success. Pat and I felt so supported and loved. With 100 people in attendance, half joining us for all or part of day one's ride to Florence, the media, some of our sponsors and nice weather we couldn’t have asked for more.
Michelle Turkelson, a Springfield native, shared her story of loosing a leg, below the knee, after being involved in a motorcycle accident that shattered the tibia in her right leg. "She talked about how her prosthesis allowed her to return to an on-your-feet career, as well as to swimming, cycling and playing with her grandchildren. Accident victims in most other parts of the world are not so fortunate, she told the group."
After listening to Michelle share her story, I shared the story of Maribelle, one of ROMP's recent patients, who has overcome an incredible amount of difficulty in the last two years of her life.
"Maribelle was brutally attacked with a machete by her husband; leaving her with two less arms and two children with no father. She left her hometown in Honduras to find the nearest place to receive prosthetic care. She, like so many others, ended up at ROMP’s clinic in Zacapa, Guatemala, hundreds of miles away from her home, during a coup d’etat that was unfolding this past summer in Honduras. She spent a week at the clinic with her Grandmother. ROMP staffers worked endlessly to treat her and some 25 other patients in just that one week! By the end of the week, we had finally managed to design her a pair of prosthetic arms that allowed her to write us a letter. Even after seeing hundreds of other patients go through physical therapy, or walk for the first time in years, I have still to this day never been witness to anything as courageous and powerful. The human spirit that allowed her to travel under the cover of darkness, with two recently amputated arms, following a shred of hope that she would someday be able to comb her daughters’ hair, tie her shoes, or even bathe was embodied in that moment that she wrote us the letter. ROMP has since treated hundreds of others just like Maribelle. We ride for these individuals."
I may never encounter these young men again, but I think of them often and I'd like to think that we are both out for the great good of humanity. Although we may not physically see the growth of the seeds we have planted along the way, I think there is a small garden growing along our paths.
Please take time to watch their video and check out their website.