So, a lot of folks having been asking me why I’m doing what I’m doing. Why Pablove? Why cycling? Why cancer? I thought I’d just take a moment to really lay out why I’ve decided to lend my time and energy to this amazing cause.
When I was in high school, my grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer. This was really the first time someone I was really close to was sick beyond my comprehension. She and my grandfather lived about 5 hours away from us, so we weren’t really close in terms of proximity during her illness. And much to my regret, in the end, the last time I saw her was at the funeral home. No chance to say goodbye, or I love you, or how much I appreciated everything she had done and taught me. She passed away after a long and valiant battle, and I remember being left with memories of summers spent as a child in her sweet and tender care. I recall a dream I once had when I was going through a particularly tough time in my life when she appeared at the end of a jet way in an airport and as I passed her on my way off the plane, she looked at me and smiled and said, “Don’t worry, honey, everything is going to be just fine.” I woke up from that dream crying, just wishing I could see her and give her a hug and say thank you one more time.
It was during junior high, high school and college that I was an active and competitive bike racer. During the long and grueling hours on the road I recall having a silent mantra that I would constantly repeat to myself. It was basically, “This ain’t nothing.” Thinking that no matter how bad I was suffering on the bike, it was nothing compared to the pain and suffering and loneliness she must have felt battling against her cancer. She was and still is a constant inspiration to me. So this ride is for my Memaw.
Then there is my mother – my step-mom if you want to get really technical, but to me she’s always been my mother, no matter how much shit I gave her as a teen and young adult. In the summer of 2000 I was living away from my family in New York City. I got a call from my dad and he could barely keep himself together on the phone. My dad’s a crier – I think I inherited that trait from him. Mom had been diagnosed with breast cancer and was looking at a double mastectomy and several months of chemo and radiation treatment. As he choked up in my ear telling me the news all I could do was make a bee line for St. Patrick’s Cathedral where I sat for hours staring at the cross at the far end of the sanctuary and begging for mercy on my mom and dad.
It’s now 2011, and my mom is cancer free. I think there’s some medical milestone around 5 years of being disease free that’s pretty significant. She’s blown through that. And I am eternally grateful. I’m so inspired by the love and commitment and persistence that my mom and dad have shown over the years. So this ride is for my mom and for my dad. You’ve given me a lot to live up to. I hope I can continue to make you guys proud.
Then my kids. My sweet beautiful children. Abigail turns 10 next month, and Arlo is 3 1/2. My love for them grows every single second that I am in their presence. Their curiosity, creativity, wonder and unabashed love of life is something that provides constant inspiration and joy. I only hope I can be a good example and an inspiration to you guys as you grow into young adults and someday have families of your own. This ride is for you, Abby and Arlo. Daddy loves you more that you will ever know.
And finally, this ride is for Pablo, and kids like Pablo all around the world. I never knew you, little dude – in fact, I’m going to be meeting your dad for the first time in Nashville – but you must have been a truly amazing little person, because your mom and dad have put together something truly special. In the marketing world, we’d call it a “grassroots movement”. But know that they are in good company. Great change always begins with a very dedicated and passionate few. For Pablo Thrailkill Castelaz, and all of the other kids around the world who would rather be out riding their bikes than sitting in a hospital dealing with the totally sucky experience of pediatric cancer treatment, my ride is for you.
This ain’t nothin’.