Before leaving home, I walked into Picky Bars in Bend and told them about the Long Bike Ride I was preparing for. Jesse Thomas is one of the owners, a five time Wildflower Triathlete Champion. He stood from his chair, walking over to me, taking a genuine interest in my story. Along with a few of the others who work there, they agreed to supply me with a sampling of their delicious real food bars. They’re designed for picky champions just like Jessie and I was able to eat a lot of them, fueling my body as I pedaled my way across America. For this, I’m grateful…
Kristina, she’s a veteran, an entrepreneur and has created a meal replacement bar for dogs. She’s full of love. You may have seen her on Shark Tank receiving the funding she deserved to grow her company. One of my friends asked her to call me before I left, and she did. Kristina understood my passion, my pursuit of the dream, and wanted to support Jo and I. She offered to feed my best friend from coast to coast, providing nearly a thousand dollars worth of TurboPUP meal replacement bars for Jo, bacon flavored. For this, I’m grateful.
Joe works at Newport Avenue Market. He keeps in stock several of the bumper stickers I’ve branded and also places my coffee beans, Elf Brew, on the shelf at Christmas time. When I approached him, asking for support, he was instantly on board. He introduced me to Lauren, the COO who makes things go vroooom. She handed me a check and a gift card, sending me shopping in their store for some delicious goodies to take with me on the adventure. For this, I’m grateful.
Julie wrote me a note out of the blue. You can find her smiling face at Straw Propeller Gourmet Foods. She invited Jo and I over to their warehouse where I was able to meet all of the wonderful ladies that make their products special. And when we left there, I had two cases, a huge assortment of individually packaged oatmeal that provided me with the delicious calories I needed to ride a bike from one state to the next. For this, I’m grateful.
Mike oversees the operations at Hutch’s Bicycles in Bend. It wasn’t to difficult to track him down, and when I did, he offered to send me on a shopping spree. I was able to pick out some biking shoes, a pair of shorts, and some other accessories I needed. I also walked out with a single pair of socks and one red bicycle jersey, which I’ve worn thin, wearing them for 80 days in a row. For this, I’m grateful.
Despite the name, Shoeless Jo, he actually does wear shoes. It was Blair who welcomed us into the Ruffwear headquarters in Bend. And it was Susan that met us in their showroom and loved on Jo. She helped him choose everything he would need to be safe and comfortable as he too made his way cross-country by bike. Jo wears their pack, is tethered by their leash, loves their shoes, and eats from one of their lite weight collapsible bowls. For this, I’m grateful.
I’ve never met Noah before, but I did talk to him on the phone for awhile on the day we were leaving Oregon. He works for Burley Designs in Eugene and offered to cut me a “pro-deal” on the Tail Wagon, half price. It’s an aluminum trailer built specifically for man’s best friend, weighing only 22lbs and that’s where Jo cooled his paws when he wasn’t running alongside of me. For this, I’m grateful.
Mike Hargous works for McDonald’s in Central Oregon. In the past, he has helped me with my mission by placing “Elf Boxes” in each of their restaurants. They encourage the community to place new unwrapped toys in them, and by doing this kind act, they are creating a brighter Christmas for children via Operation Elf Box. All it took was a call, asking him for a few Big Macs along the way, and he said yes. After talking it over with the McOwner’s, they offered to feed me for free every time I passed by the Golden Arches from coast to coast. For this, I’m grateful, and i’m lovin it.
The Gilstraps and the Claytons are popular and it’s not just because they are the proprietors of Cuppa Yo and Woof, two of Bend’s favorites; a frozen yogurt shop that neighbors their self service dog wash. People love these two families because they are lovable and do many wonderful things to support our community. And aside from helping us gather gifts at Christmas time, they were happy to support the mission, handing me a check and a hug before I left. For this, I’m grateful.
It was Ervin who owns EMR Logistics, a freight broker in Bend who provides the details for people moving things across the country. I sat in his office a week before I left, with a near empty wallet and a heart that was brimming with a dream. He was one of the first I shared it with. Ervin has watched me over the the last few years, both us having occupied spaces in the same building together, an Elf Shoppe located down the haul from his office. Ervin didn’t hesitate, handing me a thousand dollars, sending us with well wishes and the hope that our dreams would come true. For this, I’m grateful.
There are so many others also who have provided for Jo and I as we’ve been making our way. Many of those stories, the kindness, the love, the generosity, I’ve already shared with you in my blog. I think it’s important to share the kindness of others. It breeds more kindness, more love in the world.
I believe it’s even more important to give thanks. It hasn’t always been easy for me, especially when there was some trouble I was dealing with in life. But I know now that even trouble has a purpose. I’ve learned that by expressing my gratitude, in all situations, regardless of the circumstances, that I’ve become a happier person, more able to love myself and to love others. I see the blessings now in everything. For this, I’m grateful.
These are the things I wanted to let you know, that I’m grateful for you, and that I love you.