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Julie Benoit

Julie Benoit
Baltimore, MD United States
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This will be my fouth time doing the Ride for the Feast, the 5th year I have been involved with the ride though. I have volunteered for Ride for the Feast the years that I was not able to actually ride and I have also been a volunteer for dining out for life. Last year I was asked to share my story of why i is what i wrote:

I ride for my friends, and I ride for people in my community that are in need.

A couple of years ago terminal illness and death were things that sort of lived in my periphery. Sure I had known people who had lost a parent or a grandparent or a friend to a terminal illness but not me, not yet. I am lucky my friends have all been healthy. My parents are both still alive. The only grandparent I have really known is still alive and turning 99 this year. So these things hadnt ever really hit close to home for me until my father in law Rob died after a quick fight with mesothelioma. While Rob was fighting the cancer and dealing with the doctors appointments and the treatments I was amazed at the support that Rob and Anne, Mikes mom had. Their friends, their neighbors, people in other countries, their entire community was there for them in some way or another, whether it was to bring them food, feed their horses, mow their fields, research alternative treatments, really anything-- people were there to help them from all walks of life and it was pretty remarkable.

Shortly after Robs death Dan, the husband of one of my best childhood friends Missy was re-diagnosed with brain cancer. They have a young son and this news really hit me hard as I was a new mom.  Dan had won his first battle with brain cancer in the late 90’s.  Unfortunately cancer reared its ugly head for a second time, Dan fought hard for a little bit and ultimately lost his second battle to cancer. In December of 2012 he died. They live in Florida so I could not physically be there for Missy and Namath.  I also didn’t get to see first hand the support system that they had through Dans struggle. It wasn’t until I went down to Florida for Dans memorial service that I was able to see the vast number of friends and family they had by their side during Dans fight with cancer.

The last couple of years I dedicated my ride to Dan, while he was still alive. He was really happy that I was riding for him.  He and Missy would send me encouraging text messages along the way. They were always cheering me on from 14 hours away.  Dan was a runner and a biker and supported anyone doing anything for a good cause. He and Missy were both so happy I was doing this ride for him as they have also been generous supporters to Moveable Feast.

This year I am riding again for Missy and Namath and of course Dan, but in honor of him.

This past year a friend of mine, Melissa suffered from a series of strokes while jogging. She has been in recovery for 8 months now, and she still has a long road ahead of her as far as recovery goes. She lives here in Baltimore. I spend a lot of time visiting with her. Her husband Matt is amazing and the best partner someone could ask for. Melissa's hospital room is full of love, so much love.  The front door to their charles village house is also filled with love.  I know that Matt and the kids bellies are also filled with love.  I have first hand seen the giant support system she has. Her family, her friends, her co workers, her clients, her neighbors -- every single person she knows is there for her and her family day in and day out. 

Last year I am rode for Melissa and her family, and this year I will do the same.

Seeing the amount of love and support Melissa has had this past year has really been a huge eye opener for me. It has made me reflect on the amount of support that Mikes family had and the amount of support Missy and Dan had.   This has made me see just how fortunate some people are and now I really understand how not so fortunate other people are. This has made me realize how important the money that we raise for Moveable Feast and how important doing this ride is. It has made me realize how much every single one of us who raise money and who volunteer for Moveable Feast means to somebody. I have realized that each one of us in this room are somebody’s support system in some way or another. And that is pretty awesome. I have heard and read stories of clients of MF and these people don't have support systems like the people I  have mentioned have. And then to realize how important MF is for them and how MF changed their lives. It is pretty awesome. 

Because of those of us who are here year in and year out, more people than ever are aware of what RIde for the Feast does and what it means. This is clearly evident by this years turn out. Just the other day I was talking to my friend Matt and he had mentioned how excited he was that so many people that he knows and calls friends participate in this ride, and how we all made him interested in MF. It made me really happy. 

I am thankful for my support system. I am thankful that my mom, my Nan and my sister Jen are willing to be my support system and take care of my daughter Frankie so that Mike and I can be on our bikes training and so that we can spend yet another weekend riding from Ocean City to Baltimore so that we can be somebody else’s support system.  It feels good to be doing something for somebody who needs it.

And that is why I ride -- to be somebody who needs my support system’s support system.


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