Day 52: Toledo Ohio, July 30th 2019

The day started with an easy 65 mile bike ride from city to city with a lot of country roads in between. My pace line has two flat tires, but we still made it to stage up on time. The team gathered together to a big arrival for Sunshine. (The camp we were staying at) As we rolled in through the crowd, there were several signs and many smiles greeting us all. The energy of the crowd was electric and a total energy booster. As we ate lunch, I had the pleasure of sitting with a few local Pi Kapp Sweethearts (From Toledo) and we shared stories from our experiences. Several chapter brothers from BGSU came to visit us all as well. It’s always super nice to see support from local Pi Kapps. It puts a smile on our face and gives the team a morale boost. The company really means a lot to us.

After lunch, we went inside for an amazing karaoke party. Everyone was jumping up and down while screaming our hearts out. One young girl names Mariah would clap her hands out of excitement after every song and give me a big hug. She convinced me to do a duet with her and she goes “You Belong With Me,” by Taylor Swift. Mariah and I absolutely killed the song. We never had to look at the screen because we knew every single word. The party was already energetic, but this song made everyone even more hyped. Every person in the room was standing and pouring their hearts out into this one song and it was a really neat bonding moment between everyone in the room. When the song was over, Mariah gave me a high five and the biggest hug. It was a moment that I hope to cherish forever.

Afterwards, we had our weekly team meeting. We meet several times every day, but only once a week for a long deep conversation. In this meeting, I had to pass on the MVP award that I received at the prior meeting. I gave it Phil Piasecki because he is an absolute animal on the bike and a guy at friendship visits who finds people who feel left out and makes a new friend. He knows the fine line between having fun and being held accountable. Phil is the glue and rock that our team needs so it would be dumb for him not to get the award. We also talked about how there is not many days left and we need to really cherish in every moment. We have decided to do little things like ride with a different guy every day, y’all at night more, and to never touch our phones any time we eat. It’s a really great group of guys we have here and every one of us loves this team with all of our heart. We only have 10 days left so we will be making the most of it.

After the pizza buffet dinner, we went and got ice cream. I got a chocolate malt and convinced several other guys to try it and now the team is hooked. Eric Overby (A cyclist on the team) had a cousin who played on the local Mud Hens so we decided to catch a game. His cousin bought tickets for all the guys who wanted to go. When we showed up looking for our seats, we were expecting nosebleeds or other cheap seats. Our seats were actually four rows back directly behind home plate! He reserved 18 of the best seats in the house for our guys. It was a great way to relax and enjoy our night while supporting the local community. On the way back, we jammed out to “I Got a Feeling,” by the Black Eyes Peas with every guy singing every word.

The day was super eventful and a lot of fun. Truthfully, every day has many experiences like this one. The Journey of Hope has been a life changing experience for us all giving us memories that we will never forget. Between the rides, friendship visits, and just members on the team it has been the best summer of our lives.

Sitting around reminiscing at the end of the day, Kyle Keary gave me a great quote to share. “I was thinking in the car and I’m not a very emotional person, but I am going to bawl my eyes out in D.C. like I will never have a group of guys to make memories with like you all. I’m really going to miss this.”

-Derek Lahey, Western Illinois University
North Route cyclist