The 2019 Gear Up Florida team woke up with great appreciation to our sponsors for lodging at Bishop Verot High School and providing a home cooked breakfast to start out our early morning. Conor and Cassidy, students at the school, are two outstanding individuals that have learned about The Ability Experience and what we do as they have grown up around individuals who have supported us over the years. They both wanted to ensure that we will have a place to stay and food to eat while in Fort Myers for years to come. It is truly amazing to see the work of those individuals that they put into having us for the night.
After our team circle up around 6:00 am the cyclist started on their 81 mile ride to Sarasota. As Historian for the team, I am responsible for the team photography and coordinates all sponsor photographs, but overall the crew members are responsible for the on the road safety and behind the scenes details. We always start our morning at least 15 minutes earlier to make sure that the crew vans have snacks, water, and all of the equipment ready to go to ensure that they are safe on the road. As we traveled through Punta Gorda and Charlotte Harbor, we had the opportunity to see the Charlotte Harbor, which was an awesome view to see. Along the ride, we will stop almost every 8 to 10 miles to set up a stop for all the cyclist to get snacks, water, and to take a short break. We ensure that any turns are marked for them along their path and to cheer them on to boost their energy.
We arrived at The Greenhouse Restaurant being welcomed by the Venice Lion’s Club who spent the afternoon getting to know where we were from and learn about the impact that we are making. Bill and Jeannette Davis coordinated this lunch as their grandson, Ryan Patout is a Pi Alpha from Purdue University. That evening we had the opportunity to spend time together as a team to swim and enjoy pizza at the local YMCA in Sarasota before having to get prepared for the next day!