INFORMER MySunriseCommunity.com I 727-216-7903
How Cycling Helped Me Help Others C ongratulations! You’ve just received the very first edition of Sunrise Communities’ newsletter. My team and I are excited to share our tips and tricks to making mobile home communities a better place for your residents and a better investment for you. My wife will even be including some recipes you can try at home. I’ll be getting to know you right here on the cover. Call me old-fashioned, but I like the people I work with to have a sense of who I am, where I’ve been, and where I’m coming from. Rather than kick things off with the story of how I became an entrepreneur or discovered my passion for humanitarian work, I want to talk about the hobby that bound those two parts of my life together — cycling. I got on my bicycle and started my first job when I was just 12 years old. I’d waited for the high schooler working the paper route in my neighborhood to graduate, and I even asked him to refer me for the job when he left. Every morning, I rode out to meet the newspaper truck a quarter-mile from my house to distribute the news to my community’s doorsteps — and a few rooftops. Riding this paper route was my first real taste of freedom. For the first time, I had money of my own to spend! At 16 years old, I was able to buy my first car. Throughout my days tossing papers, cycling itself seemed little more than a tool, a means of getting me from place to place quickly. It was only after reaching the grim realities of adulthood that I discover a newfound love for seeing life on two wheels. Like so many Americans, times were tough for my family. During the difficult years after the recession, I started training for triathlons to stay active and relieve WHEN RUBBER MEETS ROAD
stress. I even found cycling to almost be a form of meditation. There was something about gliding down the road with the wind on my face that made the world seem brighter. I became so infatuated with the sport that in 2010, I got on my bike and rode from Florida to Washington, D.C. A lot of naysayers tried to talk me out of this ride, and they weren’t being mean- spirited. I was not in the kind of shape one should be in to ride for 1,154 miles in humid conditions, but I needed to try anyway. I ended up surprising even myself, rolling into our nation's capital exhausted, sore, and triumphant. In many ways, cycling had liberated me once again. I felt like I accomplished something bigger than myself, but couldn’t shake the feeling that I’d only done it for myself. I was no stranger to charity work; in fact, I had been helping an old friend with his great nonprofit organization, Tiny Hands. For those unfamiliar with the charity, they provide much-needed resources, such as food, school supplies, and holiday gifts to underprivileged children. Sunrise Communities is even going to start bringing Tiny Hands’ inspired “Backpack Brigades” to our own communities this coming school year, distributing new backpacks full of notebooks, pencils, paper, and other necessities for kids who may not be able to afford them. My work with Tiny Hands gave me a real taste for philanthropy, and I found myself wanting to donate more than just time. Completing my ride to Washington, D.C. provided me with a moment of inspiration: Why not combine my love of philanthropy with cycling? That’s when the idea for 72 Hours to Key West was born. Within five months of my ride to Washington, D.C., I’d organized another three-day ride, one I wouldn’t do alone. Partnering with Tiny Hands, we attracted a small but dedicated group of riders to make the grueling but beautiful 280-mile journey for a good cause. This year, we had 75 riders from all over the country compete, raising over $40,000 that will provide food and gifts to impoverished children this holiday season. I’m so glad I discovered my love of cycling when I did. Being able to take something I was passionate about and turn it into a cause that brings joy to others has been an incredible adventure. No matter what you enjoy doing, my advice would be to ask yourself, “How do I take this further? How do I take this beyond just my own experience?” Chances are, you just might surprise yourself!
So, dear reader, what brings you joy?
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