Another day of sleeping in! Wake-up call at 8 am…
After breakfast, we loaded into the vans and headed over to the Knoxville Ronald McDonald House and the Knoxville Fellowship Center where we split up into groups. The Fellowship Center is a housing complex for patients of all ages and their families. Housing costs are extremely cheap, intended to provide homes for patients needing treatment that can not travel long distances to get to the hospitals in Knoxville. Our 4K volunteer group painted baseboards and cleaned apartments. The Ronald McDonald House is $5 a night for a room (no matter how many people), as long as the patient is 21 or under. It’s a gorgeous old victorian building that houses 61 people.
At the Ronald McDonald House, I cleaned out the RM transport van, washed it, and and then helped the others weed the garden beds.
Even though this work seems trivial, it’s all part of a larger picture. We learned about the organization, their policies, met a couple of houseguests, and helped the workers focus on larger, more immediate concerns.
Afterwards, we hung out doing laundry at a local laundromat before returning to our host. I took a little nap and woke up to a text from our ride director, Erica. Something in the immediate nature of the text made my stomach turn in anxiety. We were to have a team meeting directly after dinner.
Erica started the meeting, clearly upset. She announced to us that someone on Team Portland had gotten hit by a vehicle and passed away. We later found out that that girl was Jamie Roberts, a 24 year old graduate of St. Mary’s. Everyone was shocked by this news. It could have been any of us; we ride with these vehicles everyday.
Reverend John Wiggers came in and spoke to us, offering prayers and support. We walked around the neighborhood, lit candles, and spent time with each other. It was devastating news to all of us. And as the night went on, we heard more and more details about the accident. Brian Satola, the COO of UCF will be visiting us and we will not be riding for the next two days, at least.
I’m not really sure what to say else to say at the moment. A tragic event like this really puts things into perspective. This could have happened to any team, any person. I am definitely grateful to have such a close bond to all 30 of my teammates. But it sucks that an event like this had to happen.
Jamie’s facebook was particularly moving – her profile picture was an image of her signing a “Before I die, I want to…” board. She wrote: “Before I die, I want to bike across the country. 4K for Cancer.”
My thoughts and best wishes go out to Jamie, The Roberts Family, and Team Portland. Team San Francisco will be continuing on no matter what, in honor of the fight against cancer and Jamie.
Much love to you all,