Why I ride
Dear Family and Friends,
I hope you all are well! Our lives have been shaken to the core with the Covid-19 pandemic, and with so much else in our world to cause our reflection and contemplation, this has been and continues to be an intense and emotional four plus months, hasn't it? Riding my bike has been very therapeutic in so very many ways during these challenging times. I hope you too have found ways to decompress and maintain your optimism, and even your sanity!
I believe that most of you know that I will be retiring from my position at Children's Hospital Colorado Foundation on August 20th of this year after twenty wonderful years supporting the mission of this magical hospital that has a regional, national and even global impact, due to the extraordinary research and patient care delivered here year after year. However, as long as I am able to ride a bike, I will continue to support the Courage Classic by riding and contributing as much as I am able! I cannot imagine NOT being a part of it! This year, however, due to
the pandemic, the event is different. It is "virtual" in that I will not be riding in the company of 2000 other individuals, and I will not be doing the typical route in our beautiful Rocky Mountains. I will, however, ride at least 80 miles over three consecutive days, some around greater Denver, and some in the mountains near our cabin. And Bob and Sarah will accompany me on parts of those routes. It is sad not to have the camaraderie of all the other cyclists for this beautiful cause, but hopefully this time next year things will be different... that is what I am praying for! This event, however, is my last hurrah reaching out to ask for your support, as I will retire my fundraising bike helmut ... I will simply write the biggest check I can in the future in support of the ride. Next year, if you wish to contribute, you may reach out to me by email. You know where to find me, but this is my last official annual plea!
Meanwhile, this year I also have changed my team affiliation to "Psych to Climb," which launched as a new team last year in support of our Pediatric Mental Health Institute. Please note that the photo attached is last year's team... I loved participating there, but it is time to share the wealth... and, as we have cut costs due to the pandemic, and do not as yet have a team jersey, last year's will do for now! I switched to this new team to lend my help to the only Courage Classic team that supports pediatric mental health. An estimated 226,000 kids and teens in Colorado alone have diagnosable mental health conditions, yet only 21% of them receive professional care. Care coordination in our region in the past has been patchy at best. Many families never break through the barriers to accessing care. But we are changing this paradigm at Children's Colorado. Our Hospital is committed to kids and teens who are in crisis with mental health challenges. Out of 22 TOP children's hospitals nationally, we are one of only six that has a psychiatric and behavioral health program. Only one other offers the comprehensive breadth and depth of mental health services that we do. And we have established "Partners in Children's Mental Health" to reach out to the regional agencies and organizations sharing the same mission of addressing these mental health services to coordinate care and improve efficiency and access to care. We lose millions of dollars helping kids and teens in mental health crises every year. In fact, many providers have been forced to close because the deficit is too great. Despite this financial reality, and the added pressures of a severe Hospital budget shortfall due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we stay true to our north star of doing what is right for kids. At Children's Colorado, we say enough is enough.
Many of you also know that mental health is deeply personal for me. My older brother has suffered his entire life from depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and early drug addiction. If only we had known what we know now, that the brain is an organ and the brain can get sick... he might have had help early on to combat these challenges and live a healthy, happy life fulfilling his potential. Finally, in his 50's, sinking to the very bottom, he became homeless... and at last he finally received therapy and medication that have helped him into his 60's to stay off the precipice and have more good days than bad.
I am riding in the Courage Classic for my 18th year because, as I have said in previous years, it would simply be impossible for me not to ride! I ride because I can, and because I continue to be incredibly grateful for my fulfilling life and excellent health. I feel so blessed to be able to get on the bike and ride up and down our Colorado mountains. I ride because I love and value the extraordinary work done at Children's Hospital Colorado, and this has been a sweet way for all these years to involve friends and family in my passion. Truly, dollar for dollar, relatively small and modest gifts add up and set the stage for support from governmental agencies and private foundations. Your gifts count, and no gift is too large or too small... my mantra as I believe you will recall.
Heartfelt thanks as always... Whatever you are able to do during this pandemic is gratefully appreciated. I owe you a huge debt of gratitude for making a donation for my favorite charity, one that benefits children and families regionally, nationally, and even globally, leading to cures for kids everywhere. Not only are we number six nationally for the comprehensive nature of our pediatric mental health services, we are number six nationally overall as compared with all chidren's hospitals in North America. Our strenth comes from our grassroots support! Thank you yet again for sticking with me through the years! Please scroll up and click the green donate button if you are able to make a gift to my ride.
With gratitude and love always,