Wednesday, April 25, 2007

For Patricia...

I'm sure many of you remember the video "Think of Me First As a Person" - a family's story about their son, brother and uncle Dwight who has Down syndrome. We were all so very touched by this beautiful story that many of us blogged about it.

My entry.

Well, Dwight's sister, Patricia, mom to George, who created the movie posted a comment on my blog. Since then, Patricia and I have kept in contact with one another - she has become a very wonderful friend!

Patricia is an amazing woman who bikes hundreds of miles a year, often in support of a very worthy cause. Its no wonder Dwight has been so lucky in his life - as this family is truly incredible.

Patricia has given me permission to share an article that she wrote about her bike riding shortly after her father's death.

Here is her inspiring story:
              Copyright (c) 1995, Landmark Communications, Inc.

DATE: Sunday, October 1, 1995 TAG: 9509270041


EIGHT YEARS AGO I signed up to bike 100 miles for the American Lung Association Colonial Virginia Bike Trek for the first time.

I had two reasons to do this: First, my husband told me I could never bike 100 miles. He said that he was in good enough shape to compete in a 100-mile bike trek but there was no way I could accomplish such a feat!

That was all I needed to hear. I would have to prove him wrong. My second reason for wanting to do the trek was I wanted to make a difference. I have always felt very strongly about the smoking issue and lung disease. I believe in the valuable work of the American Lung Association of Virginia and how they help people with lung disease. So it seemed only natural to help raise money for a cause I believed in.

My strong feelings about lung disease hit close to home. My dad, Dwight L. Core Sr., was a smoker. For years, I watched what cigarettes did to him. I would ask him to quit. I'd tell him how much I loved him and that I'd miss him when he was gone. Usually this would only make him angry. His reply was, he enjoyed smoking and didn't wish to give it up. It gave him pleasure.

He knew his health was deteriorating. We had a number of disagreements about his smoking. For a while I didn't go over to my parents' home. I didn't like the second-hand smoke, plus I didn't like seeing what continued smoking was doing to my dad's health.

My mom intervened and asked my dad not to smoke around me. He agreed. Three years ago my dad became very ill and was hospitalized. He never smoked again.

My dad was always one of the largest contributors to my bike treks. When he mailed me his check he would always write a note, telling how proud he was of his daughter and her accomplishments.

When I had raised over $25,000 and was at that time the largest fund-raiser in the state, my name was added to the National Wall of Recognition in New York. I was given a plaque. I gave it to my dad. He treasured the plaque and would show it off to people, like the man who brought him his oxygen and breathing supplies.

In fact, my dad gave the oxygen man one of my fund-raising letters. The man wrote a check for $100 to the ALAVA in honor of my bike trek.

The first year I did the trek, I averaged about 10 miles an hour for the two days. I was so slow my husband didn't ride with me. That night I was so sore I had to get a massage. The day after I finished I ached all over. Now I cover the 50 miles each day in a little over three hours.

Over the years, I've gained far more than I've given. I am in great shape physically. Now, I go on biking vacations. I've biked in Vermont and Florida. My level of self-confidence is off the charts. I know I can accomplish anything I want in life. I love the high I get from biking. I can be feeling sorry for myself, then I push myself to go for a bike ride. Afterward, I count my blessings. But the biggest blessing of all has been in the brave and caring people I've met.

The first seven years I biked in honor of my dad. This year I will bike in his memory. He died July 6.

My dad taught me so much about life. Fortunately, a week before he died, I was able to tell him my feelings from my heart, the kind of feelings that so often we just don't take the time to share.

I thanked him for being my Dad. told him how he taught me to be loving, sensitive and caring. He also taught me to be assertive and stand up for what I believe. My assertiveness has allowed me not to be shy about asking people to contribute to the ALAVA for my 100-mile bike trek. Counting this year, I have raised more than $39,000 in eight years. I hope to raise that total a great deal more in the next week.

The response over the years has been overwhelming. Many of the checks come from people who have lost someone they love to lung disease.

I have a special scroll with all the names of the people I'm riding for.

On Saturday, before I begin the 100-mile ride, I'll pack the scroll away in my bike bag. On the scroll will be dad's name along with Dorothea Reiner, Eleanore Burns, Anne and James Moore, Carl Heylek, Norena Cunningham and others. They'll all be with me in spirit on my journey.


Tara Marie said...

Patricia....I will be cheering you on....and I would love to send a check in Loving Memory of my dear sweet Mother, who passed away on September 26th this past year after complications from lung surgery. I will ask Betsy to let me know where to send the check.

Just to let you know......your father holds a very special place in my heart. I play the video over and over again, and his voice touches me so greatly and the love he has for his son, your brother Dwight echos the same love and devotion and awe I have for my daughter.

Keep on Peddling.....we are so proud of you!

Peace and love, Tara Marie & Emma Sage & Family

Patricia said...

Dear Tara Marie...I am truly touched by your offer. I am sad to say the Lung Association ride that I did for over 15 years ended last year. Now, I my only ride is a 150 mile bike ride for Multiple Sclerosis. If you have a lung association in your area, you can donate to them im memory of your mom. I will continue to bike here in Virginia and you can support your local area. Again, thank you for your wonderful offer. I so sorry about your mom. Take care and God bless............