Building a healthy, inclusive world
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I rolled into Miami on June 24, 1985, 4,700 miles from home and there was actually a band playing to welcome us. Our first band! We had come to the end of Phase One of the Tour. When I set out from Vancouver on a mission to raise awareness about accessibility and funds for spinal cord research, I could never have imagined everything that we experienced so far. The Telephone Pioneers of America had been an amazing support system throughout the Gulf States, organizing receptions and events that got the word out and making sure we got to our next destination safely. Tom Norman headed up this group and I’ll forever be grateful for his commitment and dedication. We were starting to get the media attention we so desperately needed and we were learning, but our tight knit team was beginning to unravel at the seams. The stress and exhaustion from the previous three months was beginning to take its toll and I think that each of us was ready for a change of scenery.
Luckily, after crossing the Everglades and just outside of Miami, my cousin Lee provided the comedic relief we all needed. It was humid and we were tired so we took a little break on a bridge and broke out the fishing pole for some downtime. I hooked one on and reeled it in, suddenly realizing that we didn’t have a net to grab it. Lee grabbed a bucket from the motorhome and tried scooping it up but the bucket filled with water and was too heavy to lift with one arm hanging on to the bridge railing. Lee figured it was either him or the fish, so he let it go. It was another fishing adventure for the log books and we all had a laugh.
I had great hope and anticipation that the United Kingdom would bring us more momentum and awareness of what the team and I were trying to accomplish. There was still 20,200 more miles to go on my journey and I felt the weight of that number very acutely. I just hoped that my friendships with the team would remain intact! As I sipped a little champagne and toasted the end of Phase One, I had no idea the next big challenge I would face would be my health. Stay tuned…