As I competed the last assent toward the Canyon Village Lodge in Yellowstone National Park, I gave pause as to not think about all of the calamities of the day... but rather to extend a feeling of gratitude toward Carter.
The weather was too hot... the air at 8,500 feet was too thin... and my bike didn"t arrive, so I was forced to ride the hilly 50-mile course on a heavy mountain bike...
...but no matter how miserable my day was... it paled in comparison to what Carter deals with on a daily basis.
Carter Forsyth is a 5-year old and born with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA). JIA is an autoimmune, inflammatory joint disease that presents with varying degrees of pain, swelling, stiffness, lethargy and a reduction or loss of mobility.
Growth retardation is common in children with JIA, and this symptom is often exacerbated with medications typically used to treat the disease. Muscle weakness or loss, and osteoporosis are also possible conditions associated with JIA.
Carter had been experiencing pain and medical attention from Juvenile Ankylosing Spondylitis since July 2013, but he was diagnosed with JIA on January 6, 2014.
It was the thought of Carter that kept me going today when I wanted to quit... or at least feel sorry for myself…
But Carter is no quitter... and so he inspires me to keep going... even when I want to quit.
There are over 300,000 children, under the age of 18, who suffer from juvenile arthritis. World-wide, arthritis affects more people than heart disease, cancer or diabetes.
Arthritis is the nation"s leading cause of disability costing the U.S. economy more than $128 billion dollars each year.
Each year, arthritis accounts for 40 million outpatient visits, 1 million hospitalizations, and over 7 thousand deaths.
While you might believe that Arthritis is an "old person"s" disease, over 2/3 of all arthritis sufferers are under the age of 65.
In 2010, I was invited to participate in a bicycle ride down the coast of California, 535 miles over the span of 8 days to raise money and awareness for the Arthritis Foundation.
I found that people participating in this ride generally fall into one of two categories:
- Bicyclists who want to spend 8 days riding along one of the most scenic routes in the entire world... but couldn"t care less what the cause is...
- Supporters of the Arthritis Foundation who want to raise money and awareness for the prevention and cure of arthritis... but could care less what the event is...
I must honestly admit that prior to 2010, I was of the former group... not the latter.
Last year, I rode together with 300 other riders in the 15th annual California Coast Classic... many of whom were severe sufferers of arthritis but somehow found the strength and courage to ride the entire 535 miles.
One of the people I rode with was Jerry Davis, Carter"s grandfather.
From Jerry, I learned of Carter"s incredible story and so in early 2016, I decided that I would ride the CCC once again...
The Arthritis foundation uses all of the money it raises in this event for three main purposes:
- Funding research grants to find better treatments and one day a cure for arthritis.
- Educating patients on how to better control their arthritis through community outreach programs.
- Advocating on behalf of people, arthritis sufferers at all levels of government.
This year I have decided to ride for Carter.
My goal this year is to again raise $5,000 for the Arthritis Foundation from direct donations which, and through matching of OptiFuse, will actually be $10,000.
On Friday September 2nd, I will hold an opportunity drawing with a very limited amount of entries (100 to be exact) for all those people who donate $50 or more.
The Grand Prize is again 50,000 Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards points. There will also be second and third place drawings for an additional 25,000 and 10,000 points respectively.
Previous winners of the drawing have used their miles to visit their grand kids in California during the holidays... went to homecoming weekend at their alma mater... and sent their kids off to college.
Now depending on how you book your travel... these points could be as many as 8-10 one-way trips on SWA... .
THIS DRAWING IS LIMITED TO ONLY 100 ENTRIES.
To donate please click or copy and paste the following link into your browser:
(Please make sure that you click on the "give now" button rather than making a "general donation" otherwise I won"t see that you have donated in order to credit you with an opportunity entry).
For each $50.00 donation you make, you will receive 1 entry to the drawing.
The Arthritis Foundation is a fully recognized 503c charity so your donation is fully tax deductible and you will receive a letter from the Arthritis Foundation for tax purposes.
THE BONUS MULTIPLIER EFFECT
In addition to your generous donation... for every dollar raised, OptiFuse will match your donation dollar for dollar.
Therefore... doing the math... for every $50 donated by you... $100 will be donated to the Arthritis Foundation...
Now I suppose I could just write a check and be done with it... but raising money is only one of the two purposes of this ride... the other expressed purpose of the ride is to bring awareness to Arthritis and the kids that it affects.
Kids like Carter and thousands of others like him...
I"m riding so that one day no one ever again will feel the pain of arthritis...
Thank you for your support of OptiFuse where we are humbled to be given the opportunity to help others who need it.