For the past couple of days I have been cleaning up the house, mowing the lawn, doing laundry, eating tuna sandwiches and reflecting on the past couple of months while sitting on the porch. Its been nice to relax because next week its back to work and back to the daily grind...
The conference was totally amazing. We arrived on tuesday and went out to celebrate that night. The next day I had a meeting with Mike Parent and Arnie Gruetzmacher in which we discussed what would be going on during the conference. We visited Graceland that afternoon and learned that Elvis was very rich, tacky and awesome.
Went out to dinner that night for Jina's (my sister in law to be) birthday, happy B-day Jina!
Thursday I slept in and went to the NAF leadership meeting at 1. At this meeting I met many people who were working very hard to bring support groups to their areas and to raise awareness and funds for Ataxia research. The NAF now has 61 support groups and chapters in a few different countries, very encouraging, we are not alone! You can search for your nearest support group or chapter here.
That afternoon I reluctantly went in for a hair cut. I asked around and the shoe shine guy at the hotel recommended that I go to a place called Down to Earth just down the street, so I got on the main street trolly and headed to 10 Main Street. On the way there, a lady sitting next to me had who was attending the NAF conference asked me what my green bracelet means (she knew that the blue one is for Ataxia Awareness). So I told her that it represents a cycling organization in Sacramento who raises money for organ donation (Check them out, Team Donate Life, some dedicated cyclists and GREAT people). So she knew I was a cyclist and asked "So, have you met Kyle or are you going to meet him at the conference?" That was crazy.
I finally made it to the Barber Shop, got a hair cut and had a great time BSing with the guys there. If you are ever in Memphis and are in need of a hair cut, see the guys at Down to Earth at 10 Main Street.
The Grizzlies (basketball) had a home game that night and we got a few tickets so Dad, Collin (brother), U. Steve, Roger (family friend and funny guy), and I went to check it out. Kobe Bryant and The Lakers were in town so we (mainly Roger) hecckled them all night. It must have helped a lot because the Grizzlies managed to hold Kobe to only about 60 points.
Friday was a busy day. Paul Marcott from FARA had set up a TV interview for that morning at 9 so I got to be on TV in Memphis! Some guy named Rupert from Survivor was on before me, he was promoting his new book. There was also a live band that morning. The hosts of the show were really great and I had a blast!
At 11am, I was on a panel for a seminar at the conference. That was pretty fun, I told some stories and had some good conversation with the group.
1230, go time...We had a reception and I gave a little presentation about my ride. I could have gone on for hours but I kept it to about 10 minutes. We had a fairly small room which quickly filled up so they opened up the wall and that too filled up. The room was packed with about 200 people. I am getting chills just writing about it. After I gave my little presentation, Mike Parent came up to present me with a plaque on behalf of the NAF and its members.
Here is what the Plaque says:
In recognition of outstanding achievement, this honor is bestowed upon Kyle Bryant
For his courageous 2,800 mile bike ride starting in San Diego and ending at the 50th NAF annual membership meeting in Memphis, Tennessee, to increase Ataxia awareness and to raise funds for promising Ataxia research.
The Foundation applauds your important efforts and your inspiring journey.
Thanks NAF I am truly honored.
The rest of the weekend I met many rad people who all had a common goal: Stop Ataxia. There was a feeling at the conference that was different than the previous three conferences that I have been to. There is an optimism in our community of Ataxians. Many people think that we can actually beat this thing. There is a lot of promising research going on and the main thing that the researchers and scientists need to push their treatments through is MORE MONEY. They have told us this many times and we, as a community of Ataxia families, are responding. Countless Ataxia families are organizing fundraisers which raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for research every year and it seems like new fundraisers are popping up all over the country. We are taking it into our own hands and doing what we can. What can you do to help Stop Ataxia? RAISE MONEY!
Saturday night, we had dinner, entertainment, dancing, and a raffle. The winner of the raffle donated their winnings back to the NAF.
I had a blast meeting all of you and I cant wait to see you next year.
I am not sure what the future holds for Ride Ataxia but this is just the beginning. See ya soon!
I leave you with a few pictures of friends new and old: