Monday, September 7, 2009

Epilogue: Pedal for Wildlife

It feels like a decade ago that I left Carteret County to embark on a cross-country bike trip. I crossed many wonderful communities and met many wonderful people that I will never see again. Many things needed to go properly for me to pedal back here safely, and they did.

Over the past two years I have biked across the two greatest countries in the history of Earth. I was at the whim of strangers on countless occasions – when getting passed by tens of thousands of cars, when getting directions, when getting a friendly wave or served a hot meal. Time and time again Americans and Canadians showed me a wonderful side of the human spirit that seemingly never gets reported to us by media outlets. Moving slowly across our vast and stunningly diverse continent allowed me to absorb ever fiber and grit of these two countries; in them, the essential goodness of people is on display everywhere.

Every play has a central character but no great play is completed by one person alone. This is one of the most significant achievements of my lifetime because I confronted a great physical and mental challenge and, in so doing, raised money for a charitable cause important to me. I picked a perfect age to make this journey - young enough to still have legs but sage enough to figure out how to harness my energy for the better good. I had substantial help in undertaking and completing my journey.

Firstly, I would like to thank my parents, Charles and Muriel Rudershausen, for their never-ending support. They showed me how to lead a wholesome lifestyle and make a contribution to my community. I thank my siblings and aunts for their encouragement. I would like to thank Paula Gillikin for her countless words of encouragement and many hours of help with fundraising and web site development. Trish Slape, director of OWLS, provided incredible encouragement on my trip and was game for a novel fundraising idea. Dana Henderson and Kristi Moroch provided help with website development and press releases. I want to thank my supervisor, Dr. Jeff Buckel, for his support of my energetic and adventurous lifestyle.

I want to thank all the private donors and corporate sponsors for their support of Outer Banks Wildlife Shelter. You are supporting an organization that does salt-of-the-Earth work. This kind of work doesn’t typically make headlines but it is the essential fabric of a vibrant and healthy community.

Finally, I wanted to thank my local and long-distance friends and strangers that sent me e-mails of encouragement, waved at me as they passed, gave me free food and lodging, provided bike maintenance, and offered me advice. These simple acts of kindness meant a great deal to me, especially when I was far from home.

I dedicate the completion of my trip to my late cousin, Phil Patz. His sense of adventure and humor inspired me to fight through many tough miles on the bike.

In releasing a rehabilitated hawk or owl back to the wild, or pedaling across the continent, there is one true souvenir we take away. In fact, it is the only souvenir - the memory of it all.

The magician seemed to promise that something torn to bits
might be mended without a seam,
that what had vanished might reappear,
that a scattered handful of doves or dust might be reunited by a word,
that a paper rose consumed by fire could be made to bloom from a pile of ash.
But everyone knew that it was only an illusion.
The true magic of this broken world lay in the ability of things it contained to vanish,
to become so thoroughly lost,
that they might never have existed in the first place.

-Michael Chabon, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations Paul...I've been following you blog during your cross country adventure. I'm glad you are home and hopefully resting,
    Cecilia Upchurch
    Marlu's(Mom) and Greg's (mil) Bolton.