Day 31: Milpitas to Pebble Beach, CA

Well, I made it! 3,500-plus miles from Long Island, New York, to Pebble Beach, California. What an amazing trip! Bruce from Development and Tom, an Notre Dame alumnus, rode with me again today. It was a pretty hilly ending when we rolled into Pebble Beach on 17-mile drive. The Monterrey landscape is beautiful, with rolling sand dunes just about everywhere. We had a big dinner event on the pier at Pebble Beach with all of the golfers and guests last night. It is the largest turnout ever, since the Pebble Beach fundraiser began four years ago. Mike and Cindy Parseghian dunked the front bike tire in the Pacific with me at the evening event, signifying the end of my ride. It is going to be an incredible weekend.IMG_3530

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After nearly 15,000 miles over five years, this will be my last bike ride across the country. It hard to believe that it is has been five years since Renate and I started the rides and rolled into Notre Dame with so many people waiting to greet us. It has been an incredible pleasure and inspiration to work with the Parseghians over the years. Mike and Cindy are such tremendous examples of selflessness, perseverance, and hope. They turned their personal tragedy into a passion for others that has accelerated progress in our understanding of NPC, to the point that a treatment is in clinical trials. Coach Parseghian and and his wife Katie exhibit such grace, wisdom, and optimism. When Coach talks, in his natural football terms, about how far we have come—from starting our own 2-yard line and now ready to spike the ball over the goal line—my excitement always gets a fresh boost of energy. When I was growing up, I always wanted to play football for Coach Parseghian. That didn’t happen, but after all these years it is such a privilege and thrill to be on his team fighting for this life-saving cause. By working with him, I have learned so much about courage, compassion, dedication, and loyalty, and what we mean when we say, “We are Notre Dame.” While the Road to Discovery bike rides are at an end and I am taking on a new role for Notre Dame in California, I look forward to the day when we all celebrate achieving this great victory.

As I arrive in California, taking up my responsibilities as Associate Provost and Vice President to establish a Notre Dame presence here, I am experiencing a rush of remarkable memories from the past seven years. The memories have to do with individuals and families, with leaders and supporters, with places and events, with faculty, students, and staff, and, ultimately, with the strong values and virtues that make Notre Dame the special community that it is.

I think about Father Hesburgh and the hospitality he showed me at our first meeting, the wisdom he shared on our fishing trips and other meetings, and the remarkable devotion he inspired in the hundreds of students who stood shoulder to shoulder out of respect and gratitude to line his path to the cemetery earlier this year.

I think about the honor and dedication of the Navy personnel when I got to take a trip on the USS Albuquerque submarine. I think about the compassion of President Carter when I met him in Haiti. I think about the friendliness and resourcefulness of Yves, who suffers from elephantiasis, and his wife who offered us fruit to eat when Father Streit took my wife Renate and me to visit their home. I think about the conviction of the man working in the fortified salt factory and when I casually asked what he was doing, he replied, “saving Haitians.”

I think about the courage and perseverance of the Parseghians and the other families suffering because of NPC, as well as the creativity and commitment of the researchers who bring hope for a cure. I think about the cooperation, selflessness, and enthusiasm of our partners in the Pink Zone effort to fight cancer and provide care for people in our community.

I think about the friendliness and helpfulness of our staff; the passion, fortitude, integrity, and insight of our faculty; the magnanimity of our Science Advisory Council; the unswerving loyalty and generosity of our alumni; the wonder, vitality, and zeal of our students, including those who have visited Silicon Valley with me and caught the vision of how they can make an impact on their community and the world.

And then there is the recent naming of the Boler-Parseghian Center for Rare and Neglected Diseases. The Bolers were the absolute perfect family to name this center—a family that resonates with the mission of the University in a significant way, a true Notre Dame family through several generations – amazingly generous, magnanimous, and loyal to Our Lady’s University as they share in our fight for the underdog. That is what this center is all about – fighting, advocating, finding cures for those who do not have any other clear route to relief of their suffering. It part of our mission and part of who we are at Notre Dame.

Cindy and Mike Parseghian gave me a big photograph that is on the wall in the College of Science deans office— the now famous photograph of three of their children, Michael, Marcia, and Christa. All three of them succumbed to NPC. So many people come to visit my daily, and those who do not know the story often ask, “Are those your kids?” I used to just tell them the story, but today I often say “yes” before I tell them the Parseghian story. Michael, Marcia, and Christa have become all of our kids in the Notre Dame family. That picture radiates the innocence, joy, and freedom of siblings in a loving family, and it has been my inspiration through these thousands of miles to support research for a cure that will be their legacy.
Parseghian children

Well, I’m signing off here on my last bike ride and on my last day as dean! It has been an incredible ride, both on that road and in that role, because of all of you. Thank you for all the ways you have contributed to our success. You have supported me along the way in so many ways, and I am deeply grateful. The most important thing I want you to remember about the College of Science is this: It is not what we do it, but why we do it. Our values and virtues transcend the pure science of every project and infuse our work with humanity, humility, and hope to elevate the well-being of individuals and the whole human community. We are humbly grateful for your participation with us, for all of those who share our mission and our unique identity at Notre Dame.

I could tell you so many more examples of the virtues of Notre Dame. It is a special place, and even beyond the beautiful campus, it is a special community.

The Road to Discovery has reached its end, but discovery goes on and on.
Notre Dame, founded as a “force for good,” will always fight for the underdog—
Those impacted by NPC, other rare diseases, and so much more.
This unique community of faculty, students, staff, alumni, administrators, and friends
Is strengthened by its values of human solidarity, justice, and common good,
And its virtues of passion, compassion, wisdom, perseverance, and magnanimity.
Our mission is service in South Bend, in California, and around the world.



2 Comments so far

  1.    David J Kostolansky on June 29th, 2015

    Greg…Even though we were unable to make it to Pebble Beach this year, it was a pleasure to meet you along the way in Cleveland. You are truly a remarkable person…your dedication to The Road to Discovery has been an amazing journey for all of us. Best wishes to you and Renate in California as you undertake your newest challenge.

  2.    Giovanna Mastrovich on July 2nd, 2015

    Dear Greg,
    Congratulations on another successful ride. It is another one for the history books.

    We look forward to welcoming you and Renate to California as you embark on your next Notre Dame journey.

    Larry and Giovanna Mastrovich