June 26 – Day 14: Asheville to Bryson City, N.C.: Halfway There!

Today we added a new member to the support team – our daughter Ally, who flew to Asheville over the weekend to be with us. She has learned a lot about NPC, and because it affects children her age, she wanted to be a part of the trip. So we brought her down for the final two weeks. She is working with the support team to make sandwiches, do some photography and videography, help with the blog, and, of course, keep us motivated. In the photograph, Ally has adopted the Persevere t-shirt sent to us from Karen at the National Niemann-Pick Disease Foundation (www.nnpdf.org).

Ally in Persevere T-Shirt from NNPDF

On Saturday night, we met Sheila and Lisa from Illinois. They were riding their bikes along the Blue Ridge Parkway. They were curious about our ride, so we filled them in on our cause and Notre Dame’s fight. We also had the opportunity to stop by a ranch – the horses were great. We left the ranch and the riding professionals many t-shirts and cards on the cause. Greg found a new friend, Duke the horse, in the hills of North Carolina before crossing into Tennessee. The scenery was spectacular.

Greg Riding The Bike's Organic Predecessor - Duke

Sheila and Lisa, ND Bike Riders

Also on Saturday night, Greg had dinner with John and his son Joseph, both ND alums, and Ann and Robert, ND parents, at the home of John’s friend Bo in Waynesville, North Carolina. It was a great evening of conversation. John told us about his path into Notre Dame, which was fascinating. He was considering Georgia Tech until the Irish football team came to Atlanta and beat an undefeated Georgia Tech, and he was not sure which school to attend. Twelve days into the first semester, he was still working at his job when he learned that he had been awarded a scholarship that enabled him to attend Notre Dame – he packed up the next day and was off to South Bend. He got a late start that semester but caught up and had a great experience on campus. Ann and Robert’s children, four of them, graduated from Notre Dame, all of them are doing well. Now they have a grandchild attending Notre Dame. I asked Robert how four of his children all attended Notre Dame, and he said that after the first, they all caught the “fever.” Robert also had a career with many moves – he said 12 ZIP codes – and he always looked up the local Notre Dame club first thing when he arrived in a new town. We continue to hear wonderful stories from our Notre Dame parents and alumni.

Ann, John, Bo, Joseph and Robert

Well, today’s ride started off beautifully, sunny and uphill and down, and through a long tunnel. Toward the end, however, a pouring rain reduced visibility and made for a tough final 20 miles. The good news today: this marks the halfway point in our ride.

Riding through the Pouring Rain in Asheville, NC

We have had a fabulous experience so far, meeting the families and children with NPC – the really special part of this ride for us – along with researchers and health care professionals. We are all in this fight together to find a cure or therapy for NPC. It has been a real pleasure to get to know so many people on this great team fighting against the disease. Their passion and commitment is incredible – it comes out in our meetings with them time and time again.

Those new friends are in our hearts and minds, and the memories of the meetings and discussions are on our wrists and around our necks. So many people have given us NPC bracelets and necklaces, and we wear them all the time. When the hill is steep, or the deer is really close, or the barking dog is chasing us, the summer heat or the rain is pouring down, one glance at the collection renews our energy and keeps us going. They’re visible reminders of each one who gave them, and of all those with us on this drive to cross the goal line. We look forward to taking you all with us on the second half of our Road to Discovery.

The DART Necklace

The Believe Necklace

2 Comments so far

  1.    Anneke on June 27th, 2011

    Great picture from Ally I am sure she will be a great help and supporter, love Oma

  2.    Janice Shearer on June 27th, 2011

    You have a beautiful daughter. Glad she has joined up with ya’ll. Look forward to seeing you all in Arkansas. Enjoy reading the blog each night.