Day 17 (Monday, August 9): Stroud to Claremore, OK: The Royal Treatment by the ND Tulsa Club.

We do not know what to say to the Tulsa ND club—“thank you” would not be enough. You are awesome, Tulsa—we are deeply honored and highly appreciative of all that you have done for Desert to Dome. You rolled out the red carpet for us and showed us your passion and commitment to the Notre Dame mission and to the Notre Dame family. Thank you, Tulsa. We are so fired up after our visit with you. You really made us feel special and showed us the spirit of Notre Dame.

A very special thanks to Lamar and Erin. Lamar, you are awesome. You did so much for our visit and for Notre Dame—thank you for all of your time and effort and all of the hard work you put into our day to make it so wonderful. Erin, thank you so much for taking us around Tulsa and to the TV station, and thank you for the personal tour of the beautiful neighborhoods. We will never forget the gracious welcome we received in Tulsa. You have an awesome club, and you both have worked so hard to make it that way.

We started off bright and early at 4:30 a.m. from Stroud, Oklahoma and biked to Kellyville, where we met with three Notre Dame riders from Tulsa: Tim, Scott, and Curt.

ND Tulsa cyclists Curt, Tim, and Scott escort Greg and Renate

Greg & Renate with Tim

We met at the Pony Express in Kellyville and rode together for about 30 miles right into downtown Tulsa where we visited the Holy Family Cathedral School. We don’t exaggerate when we say that the students and faculty greeted us as if we were family. Some of the children made welcome signs for us.

Welcome signs from students at Holy Family School

The faculty and students signed the van, and we told them the story about the Parseghian children—Michael, Christa, and Marcia—and about Niemann-Pick. I had the opportunity to stop in to see the Holy Family Cathedral—it was absolutely breathtaking.

Holy Family Cathedral in downtown Tulsa

Holy Family Cathedral School signs the van

The club even arranged for the Tulsa World Newspaper to interview us.

From the Holy Family School, the next stop was the Solid Foundation Preparatory School where all of the children were outside to greet us. Lamar and Curt rode with us to the school. The children were terrific, and there were several of them with Notre Dame parents.

Future domers at Solid Foundation Preparatory School

These kids are certainly future Domers. We also met the fabulous faculty and staff. Onward to Claremore, a suburb of Tulsa where our hotel was located. Curt and Lamar rode with us—Curt is a very experienced biker, and Lamar finished the ride with pride (as he wrote on the van at the end of the journey). We heard that Lamar was practicing for the ride, and he did a terrific job on a very hot and humid day.

Greg, Renate, and Curt stuck at the train tracks, while Lamar pulls ahead

Lamar leading the ND riders

He set the bar for all other former ND football players; Coach Lou Holtz would be proud. Renate thinks Greg was drafting off of him.

In Claremore, Lamar arranged for an interview with the Claremore Daily Progress Newspaper. Erin then picked us up and took us over to the ABC affiliate, KTUL, where we were interviewed on the afternoon news. It was so cool to see first-hand the nature and sophistication of a news broadcast. We were a bit nervous because it was live, but Renate and I did okay, we think. Erin gave us a grand tour of Tulsa, the beautiful houses and the nice shopping areas.

Then it was off to McNellie’s for the Notre Dame night. Upwards of 300 types of beer on draft, owned and operated by a Notre Dame alumnus. I walked in and some University of Tulsa fans saw my Notre Dame shirt. They started to talk about the game this year, when the Fighting Irish take on Tulsa in South Bend. They did not take kindly to my prediction of the score, but it was all in good fun. After a little back-and-forth, they conceded that the Irish and our new and exciting coach will be tough to beat. We also met with Bubba, the athletic director at Tulsa, who worked at Notre Dame for many years.

Erin and Bubba with Greg and Renate

The hamburgers were delicious! The club sang “Happy Birthday” to Renate who celebrated her 39th (again) birthday this year.

Celebrating Renate's Birthday

Laughing at Greg('s jokes)

They also heard that we had had a lot of flats and supplied us with a bunch of inner tubes for the remainder of our trip. Father Matthew LaChance and Monsignor Gregory Gier also came to the club event. It was a wonderful night for us.

Fr. Matthew LaChance and Msgr. Gregory Gier with Greg

Thank you, Tulsa, you really know how to make people feel special. Lamar, what can we say, other than “thank you” one million times, and I think you have a new hobby in biking. Erin, thank you for your kind hospitality; we feel like we know Tulsa after our tour with you.

ND Tulsa, you are awesome! Thank you for all that you have done for us—we are on a high for sure.

Go Irish.

8 Comments so far

  1.    Sunny Boyd on August 10th, 2010

    Awesome ride! I have been following you from day 1! Greg: I would suggest to draft off Renate. Strong women will help you succeed. What about the sag wagon? Please tell us about the sag corp and the treats they provide??

    Best wishes on your important and challenging journey, Sunny

  2.    John Casko on August 11th, 2010

    Way to go ND Club of Tulsa! Awesome!

  3.    Sharmien Watkins on August 11th, 2010

    Greg & Renate, it was such pleasure to meet you. I will check in on your progress to ensure that the other clubs are following Tulsa’s lead in hosting you all as they should!!!

    Thanks so much for stopping by Solid Foundation, my kids finally talked about the bike riders that came to the school. They said that Pey-Pey’s (Peyton – Lamar’s son) dad and some of his friends were riding bikes and came by, we took a picture and it was fun. I then explained why you all were there and that you were from my college ND. And they said…”OK” and went about their business!

    I will pray for you all each day, that God keeps you safe, and that His hand guides you every pedal of the way.

    Sharmien Swinton-Watkins ’96

  4.    charlene Swinson on August 11th, 2010

    Greg & Renate,
    Thanks so much for stopping by Solid Foundation, my kids talked about meeting the bikers from ND. It inspired them to want to ride their bikes. I too, then explained what you were doing and why you were there.

    I believe because of the infuluence of Lamar & Sharmien, my kids speak more of ND now than they do Auburn….go figure!!

    I will also pray for you all, and wish you all the best!!!

    Godspeed to you!

    Charlene Swinson

  5.    Lamar Guillory on August 11th, 2010

    Greg & Renate,

    Your efforts to raise the level of awareness and research surrounding Niemann-Pick are awesome and inspirational. The Tulsa Club was honored to do more than “talk the talk”, we wanted to “ride the ride” with you.

    In the spirit of camradery, the Tulsa Club will award a Blue & Gold Spirit stick to the Club that can raise the bar in support and celebration of Desert to Dome!!!! I know other ND Clubs will take this challenge because WE ARE ND!!!!

    By the way, my son is still angry about not getting a ride in the “Yellow Van”.

    We pray for a safe and cooler finish of your trip.

    Lamar Guillory

  6.    Diane Morris on December 9th, 2010

    Is it possible to purchase the ND Bike shirts and/or hat?