Charity has always been at the core of the Team Sixcycle-RK&O culture, led by our support of the Tour of the Litchfield Hills. As part of another charitable cause, Team Sixcycle-RK&O's Charlie Bird recently took part in the Ride to Defeat ALS.
Ride to Defeat ALS Ride Report from Team Sixcycle-RK&O's Charlie Bird
I remember being 9 years old and asking my mom “What’s wrong with Mr. Roy? Why does he always stay in the car?” My mom softly answered “He has Lou Gehrig’s Disease. It slowly breaks down the body’s ability to control its muscles”. That was my introduction to ALS.
Over the years Paul and I played on the same youth soccer team, same high school soccer team, and even started out as teammates at Boston University before I transferred. During that time, there were two constants. The first was Paul’s mom, Terry, screaming encouragement on the sidelines of every game. The second was Mr. Roy watching from the car. He was at every game, every practice, and every team event. It didn’t matter how he felt.
When I walked up to him before and after every game his face always lit up, he would reach out to shake my hand, and he said “Hi Charlie!” with the most amazing energetic smile I have ever encountered. Despite his disease, he was truly happy to see me and to watch me play. His deteriorating speech never kept him from saying good game or even giving me tips to improve. It got to the point where I, a perfectly healthy kid, selfishly, needed to see him before and after the games.
The day wouldn’t be the same without seeing that smile and, while it never conscientiously crossed my mind, I knew these days were numbered.
A couple of years ago, I noticed on Facebook that Paul as doing the Ride to Defeat ALS in Boston, MA. At first I was shocked simply to see him ride a bike, but quickly my thoughts changed and I realized that I need to do this ride to support him and his family.
Team Roy had grown to become the top fundraising team in the event and included both his Mom and sister, Nicole. This summer when he asked me to join the team I accepted immediately. We rode as a group for 70 miles over 4.5 hours. For some of my teammates this ride is the only time they touch a bike all year and for the others it will be the longest they ride all year.
It was a pleasure to share the morning with the kinder side of the sport. We didn’t discuss speed, training, a crash, or the past race. We talked about how nice the neighborhoods looks and when the leaves were going to change. Every so often, I would look over at Paul.
He was smiling. Just like his Dad.
Ride to Defeat ALS Boston 2013: http://web.alsa.org/site/TR?fr_id=9550&pg=entry
Ride to Defeat ALS Pictures from Team Sixcycle-RK&O's Charlie Bird