By Dan S., Berkshire Center student
An event that had a major impact on my life was when I completed the Hyannis Port Challenge, a charity bicycle ride to raise money for Best Buddies. As a non-profit organization, Best Buddies helps intellectually challenged people of all ages lead better lives. My goal was to raise $2,000, which I did slightly over.
Going through with this long-term objective made me feel so powerful, almost godly. I saw the responsible part of me when I raised the money and pushed myself past the limit of my strength over a period of three grueling months.
When I was taking part in this challenge, I felt a sense of elation because I knew that I was doing something that was going to have an impact on the lives of so many people all over the world as well as myself. After completing the ride, I felt so privileged and rewarded because I was being praised and I knew that all of that hard work I had done to make this possible had paid off for those I was raising the money for and for me.
I had raised money for this wonderful cause from family, friends, teachers, and neighbors. I started out by writing a letter, which I would distribute to get pledges and printed out multiple copies from my printer at home. In the letter, I explained what my goal was and what I was raising the money for. I first went around my neighborhood leaving copies of my letter in people’s mailboxes. I received many positive responses from my neighbors, and most of them contributed. My golden opportunity came when my grandmother’s 80th birthday party was being held at my house.
The entire family on my father’s side was in attendance, a total of roughly sixteen groups of people. There, I was able to raise well over $400 in a single sitting. Teachers and other friends helped me raise the remaining $1600. My parents made a large contribution as well. It took me three months to collect the pledges.
I began training for the event three months before the race. I trained for two hours, four to five days a week. I prepared for the challenge by using the fitness room in my school doing weight training and cardiovascular exercises, which included the stationary bike, treadmill, and elliptical trainer.
One month before the race, I took my bicycle out for long rides everyday after completing my homework. One Sunday morning, I rode my bicycle from my house in Milton, Massachusetts to Castle Island in South Boston, a total distance of 12.36 miles round trip. That distance was slightly over half of the 20 miles that I would be riding on the day of the challenge.
I did not know how strong the sun would be on that day, so I did not wear any protection. Later, when I returned home, I discovered that both of my arms had received a good amount of solar exposure. The result looked like somebody had taken a torch and touched each one of my arms with it.
By the time the day of the challenge had arrived, I was both physically and mentally prepared. That morning, I made sure that I was well fueled and protected from the sun. The portion of the ride that I did was 20 miles but other riders did a total of 90 miles. The night before, my friend Anthony and I had ordered pizza from a place called Upper Crust in Boston. I fueled up on garden vegetable pizza and I remember the organic taste of the pizza.
On the morning of the big event, I remember playing the song Eye of a Tiger by Survivor in my head because I had been looking at myself as a Rocky Balboa type of figure, someone with the heart of a champion.
Some of the participants in the challenge were celebrities such as Cindy Crawford, Carl Lewis, and NFL linebacker Tedy Bruschi. I remember that before the challenge, I had my picture taken with Tedy Bruschi. Bruschi also signed my bicycling jersey.
It felt surreal to have had one of my favorite NFL players sign my jersey while I was wearing it. During the challenge, I pedaled my heart out for minutes at a time. It took me a total of 85 minutes to complete the challenge, but I did it. In fact, out of all of the six people on my team I finished first. When I finished the challenge, I could hear the cheers of many spectators around me. I could not have felt any better about that.
My parents along with my best friend Anthony were all proud of the fact that I had done this. I was so proud of myself and I felt like I had just won the Super Bowl. After the challenge, there was a huge celebration at The Kennedy Compound under a tent. At that party, the 1980s band The Go-Go’s preformed. Even though I like the music of The Go-Go’s, I spent some time outside of the tent because the noise was much too intense for me to handle, plus I could hear the music clearly enough from outside the tent. Since the after party took place on the beach, I walked around on the sand. I still distinctly remember the sand flooding my sneakers.
For weeks after the challenge, I was still feeling high from it. I felt so privileged and rewarded to have completed a bicycle ride that had changed my life and the lives of millions of people around the world. I remember that even a month after completing the challenge, my mother was still telling how proud of me she was that I had completed it.
One place I had always wanted to travel to was the California Bay Area, and since I had worked so hard to complete the Hyannis Port Challenge, I received that trip out west as a reward from my parents. I had a great time, but my greatest reward was preparing for and actually completing the challenge.
I highly recommend doing this or some other type of community service. The feeling you get from it is irreplaceable.