Day 6 – Monterey to Santa Cruz
As we headed into the weekend and the last two days of riding, there was a shift among the team. Saturday, Day 6, was a light route, with little climbing and just 47.6 miles, which was welcomed after a very long Day 5. Everyone was looking forward to shaking out some of the aches and pains from the previous day. Saturday would be no different than a typical club ride–light and breezy.
But our dedication that morning shifted the tone. We dedicated our ride on Day 6 to Keira Viswanatha, the daughter of PAA riders Naveen and Crystal, and Ella, who was at the dedication with her mother, Sophie. Five years ago, Keira was diagnosed with neuroblastoma and opsoclonus myoclonus syndrome (OMS), a rare cancer and autoimmune double diagnosis. As Naveen said during the dedication, Keira went from being a happy, healthy, active child to being completely debilitated in nine days–she couldn’t sit, stand, or walk without support.
Now six years old, Keira experiences long periods of remission, but invariably, OMS rears its ugly head. Recently, after nine months of remission, Keira started showing signs of her disease, and just before the ride, she started treatment to get stabilized. Naveen’s participation in the ride, with Crystal supporting the peloton and getting on the bike later in the week, means a great deal to Pablove and all the PAA riders, and his message from the dedication is why we ride:
“I’ve done Pablove Across America for four years now. And every year, I’ve dedicated a day to my daughter, Keira. I look forward to the day that I ride this ride, but don’t have to dedicate a day to Keira.”
Later that evening at dinner, we recognized five-year rider and crew member Ryan Kelly. Ryan first rode Pablove Across America in support of her nephew who was diagnosed with leukemia. Her intention was to participate in PAA for just the period of time her nephew was in treatment. But at dinner, Ryan pointed to Crystal and Naveen, and said her work, our work, isn’t done. There are children, like Keira, who are still fighting cancer. We have to keep pedaling and keep fundraising to help them.
Day 7 – Santa Cruz to the Finish Line
Sunday morning we woke up in beautiful Santa Cruz to embark on our last day of our journey. The morning dedication was for Hyrum, one of our amazing Shutterbugs, who also joined us at dinner in Santa Cruz the night before. His speech at our dinner was so inspiring to all of us, we just had to dedicate our last day to him. We also dedicated Day 7 to Tuesday Whitt, the daughter of Charlie Whitt, one of our PAA riders. Tuesday passed away at age 2 from neuroblastoma, and Charlie rides in honor of her.
The ride from Santa Cruz to San Francisco was breathtaking. Although we experienced typical San Francisco weather–foggy most of the day–our riders were strong and enjoyed their last day riding together. We ended at China Beach in San Francisco, riding down to the beach and catching a small glimpse of the base of the Golden Gate Bridge–fog covered the rest of it.
Our week together was really amazing. We laughed. We cried. We persevered. And at the end, we rode almost 550 miles–one pedal stroke at a time. Another Pablove Across America is now in the books and we surpassed the $600,000 mark! Thank you to all of our riders, crew, sponsors, and donors who helped make this year’s event the most successful ever. None of this could happen without you.
Our work for children with cancer is far from done. This week was a perfect example of how we all are fighting childhood cancer–with (pab)love.
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From the road,
Day 6 – Monterey to Santa Cruz – Miles: 47.6
Day 7 – Santa Cruz to San Francisco – Miles: 87
Funds Raised: $610,584