POHR rider Joshua Johnson recalls his experience with the Cleveland Hope Lodge and shares the inspiring story of why he rides for those who can’t.
2012 was the first year I participated in the Pan Ohio Hope Ride…as a rider. You see, I’d been involved once before. In 2009, I was a patient/guest at the Hope Lodge in Cleveland. During the kickoff dinner, I clearly recall the excited cyclists and their families enjoying a wonderful meal and time spent together before the event began the next morning. However, times were not so cheery for my wife and I. For the next year, I would be fighting for my life against cancer.
In 2011, after making a miraculous recovery from two surgeries, chemotherapy, and nearly life ending complications, I began to set my sights on the upcoming POHR. I was never a cyclist to begin with. In fact, I spent my college years playing football as an offensive lineman at nearly 300 pounds. Cycling offered me a window to regain some of the athleticism I had lost. I was determined to participate in the Hope Ride again, only this time I’d be riding in it myself.
When people ask me who I’m riding for, I never hesitate: I ride for those who can’t. I ride for those who will be staring through the Hope Lodge windows at me. I ride for those who have gone before me in their own battles with cancer. For those who shared conversations with me in hospital beds next to mine. I ride, most notably, for those I never saw again.
The POHR has impacted my life in two noticeable ways. First, it has obviously provided me a way to give back to the Hope Lodge and its staff for all of their outstanding, selfless effort. I was the recipient of unmatched hospitality while staying there and now I am able to raise donations to benefit others in need of that wonderful resource. Second, the POHR has become an outlet to raise awareness among those who may not know my story and provide encouragement for those facing their own battles.
My favorite and most memorable part of the event has to be the kickoff party. Don’t get me wrong, the feeling of accomplishment after completing the ride is wonderful! But I truly enjoyed visiting with the guests/patients at the Hope Lodge and encouraging them. I guess this part goes hand in hand with my advice for new and returning riders: Try going inside and striking up a conversation with the people on the other side of the glass. You never know, they may be riding beside you next year!
Here’s to a wonderful POHR 2013!