Joe, my dad, works in a grocery store in a town of about 30,000 people in central Iowa, pretty far from the Southern Tier Bike Route, and the office of Big City Mountaineers, and any of the underserved inner-city kids we’re raising money for. One day a couple weeks ago, Joe was walking to the back of the store and he ran into George Taylor. My dad has lived in six different places since I was born, and it never takes him long to introduce himself to everyone in town. George asked my dad,
“You headed out West anytime soon?” George’s son lives in Estes Park, about an hour and a half from Denver, so he and Joe talk about Colorado quite a bit.
Dad said, No, we’re not making our usual spring visit because my son’s going on a bike trip and won’t be back until April. Joe explained that we were raising money for the nonprofit I work for, and they chatted, and parted ways.
The next day, Joe was back at the meat counter, and George Taylor came walking back to talk to him again.
“Got something for you,” he said to Dad, and gets out his checkbook. “Who do I make this out to?”
Well, Big City Mountaineers, Joe said. George, who’s retired and lives in the same town as my dad, far away from the Big City Mountaineers office in Denver and all the kids we help, said he thought what we were doing was great, and he handed Dad a donation check. I’ve never even met George.
And that’s the best story I know about this whole fundraising process, about the guy I’ve never met feeling compelled to drive to a grocery store even though he just got groceries, and write a check to an organization that helps a bunch of kids he doesn’t know.
I mean, it’s the best story, in addition to the story about all the people who donated, because they knew Tony and me when we were awkward teenagers washing dishes at the Pinicon restaurant in New Hampton, Iowa; or have led BCM trips; or bought me my first road bike; or climbed ridiculous rocks and mountains in Arizona, Utah, Nevada and Colorado with me, and hiked down to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and back; shared a passion for Saturday Night Fever back in high school; persuaded me to join BikeDenver; wrote entertaining and insightful blogs that I spent my last job reading; are probably just as glad as I am that those photos were burned; went on their first Thanksgiving In The Desert last year; worked on the campus newspaper at the University of Montana; were my RA my sophomore year of college; were aunts and uncles I still look up to; threw a surprise going-away party for a guy who doesn’t deserve friends that great; went to elementary school with me through the second grade; employ my brother; were my 7th-grade geography teacher and said, “Hey, you should write for the school newspaper;” stood on top of Mount Shasta in 2009 as part of the group who raised $25,000 for BCM; worked with me at the REI store in Phoenix; worked with me at YourHub.com but still stay in touch; worked at bars and restaurants with me in college; are the idealistic, underpaid folks who work with me at the Big City Mountaineers office in Denver; happen to be the Denver city bike planner; have spent 9 days straight with me driving around the desert in an RV; impersonated motivational speaker Matt Foley in a skit with Tony and myself in our high school variety show, twice; inspired me to run a marathon a few years ago just by going out and doing it herself; are now big-time music writers in Boston but I remember when they used to make me listen to David Lee Roth in their garage in Missoula; are the mother of my girlfriend; are the other half of that “hammer fight” story; are currently or have in the past raised money for BCM through a Summit For Someone climb; are past BCM volunteers who have seen the magic of taking five city kids out for a week in the wilderness; friends from high school, college, Montana, Arizona, and Colorado; our parents; and my close friends and heroes.
This isn’t even counting the dozens of patients and friends of Dr. Tony who have donated, many of whom I’m never met.