Thursday, July 23, 2015

Day 21: Let the JA Conference begin!

Today marked the beginning of the 2015 JA Conference, the reason why we biked down to Florida during July (we didn't pick the location or time of year people!).  The first official event of the day was our Welcome Party to help bring us in in style.  Of course, we were actually already here, and we didn't want to just walk out of the hotel with our bike, so we went to go get breakfast at Cracker Barrel and then came back to make our grand entrance.

We were killing time, because everyone said that we should ride in at 11:30.  But then of course, they wanted us early because people were standing around.  I can imagine that wasn't pleasant, we know how hot it was!  So we headed back for our big entrance, and we worked up a sweat in just that short ride! But we made it, and I got chills as I saw a crowd assembled for us to ride into.  It was so fantastic.  I'm glad I wasn't steering because I probably would have crashed us, I got shaky as we came in, just filled with emotion.

Photo with helmets at first, but then they said to take it off because of the shadows on my face--I cherished those shadows and my visor on the ride, glad it was doing its thing!

With Ann Palmer, President and CEO of the Arthritis Foundation and Mike Ortman, National Board Chair

They then even had a cake for us, it was amazing!  It was gluten free and decorated so sweetly a map of our ride and even little helmets...that matched OUR helmets!!!

We had an overwhelming response from people all day.  I LOVED that people came to say hi and share their stories with me or what the ride meant to them.  Anywhere from inspiring them to get out their bike to helping make infusions go faster by checking our updates, they are truly we we did this ride, this is about all of us, and I'm so happy to get to see the other pieces of the mosaic that this journey assembled.  Here are just a few shots I got with friends and supporters today.

And with that, I need to finish my presentation for tomorrow (come to my session on physical activity and JA at 3:45!) and sleeeep.  Everyone asks how can I still have energy, well, I get a high from the conference, but it's going to be a tiring few days!  The best kind of tiring though!

Love to you all!!


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