As a 5th generation Arizonan I was raised among a large family with deep roots. My family’s roots were planted here in Arizona when life was much different. The harshness of the raw land created a vein of grit and determination in each person. This changed my family as they were able to find joy and happiness in the middle of obstacles and adversity. Shaped and molded by the land and their family, we have learned to endure life with a smile. Today I am striving to emulate the strength of those that came before me and those around me that continue to show strength.
I have found that riding bikes has not only helped strengthen me physically, but it has strengthened me mentally and spiritually. The taller the mountain, the longer the road, the bigger the smile I have. Joining RAAM21 is such an incredible experience to grow and overcome as we race across America.
What makes this different than another bike race is the purpose; we are riding for others. We are riding for those that have suffered, fought and battled cancer. I personally have not faced that fight directly, but many friends and loved ones have. Riding over mountains and hills, across the rivers and plains, from one end of the country to the other will be difficult. This race will push us to our limits, but it pales in comparison to what those with cancer have faced.
My father-in-law, Herb Hamilton, has always been a tremendous example to me. He had such determination to do well and work hard that he never stopped working until the last week of his life in 2019. Even while battling cancer, he continued to work with a smile. He never gave up and even when he was suffering the most, he was looking to lift those around him. I am riding for him and for the hope that with the right advancements in medical research, others will have longer time to endure life with a smile.
My Grandmother, Wanda West Palmer, is another person I am riding for. Wanda was born with the gift of music. The trees and meadows of Arizona would whisper words and melodies to her, and she had the ability to share them through her music. Her music helped bring peace and comfort to many as it helped them come to know Jesus Christ. No matter how challenging life became her songs could bring back a smile. The music still lives on both through the generations that came after her and those who were influenced by her, but cancer brought her life to a premature closure. I ride for my grandma.
Even with a large family that has continued to bless me, I have been molded and shaped by many other friends and co-workers. Thirteen years ago, I met a man that did more to shape my life professionally than any other. L. Lothaire Bluth M.D. founded Southwestern Eye Center nearly 40 years ago. He had a vision of medicine that enriched and unified the professions of Ophthalmology and Optometry by creating an environment where doctors could provide the best care to the people of Arizona and New Mexico for decades. Even though he was a successful doctor and businessman, what people remember the most, was his calming and caring demeanor. In just a few minutes he could make you feel like you’d been friends for years. He worked and overcame adversity for the purpose of helping others. It was shortly after retiring that he was faced with a battle he wouldn’t overcome. As cancer ravaged his body, he continued to be an incredible example of enduring with a smile. I ride for Dr. Bluth as well as many others with cancer.
My wife Lindsay and I have been married for nearly 19 years. We have been blessed with five beautiful children: Brooklyn, Blake, Gavin, Preston and Hayden. As parents, Lindsay and I find ourselves with the responsibility to guide, raise and shape our children while also serving, lifting and strengthening those around us. Enduring with a smile and finding joy in trials is not always easy. I race in honor of those with cancer regardless of the outcome. I race so that during the journey of life many will have more time, and with that time they can endure with a smile.