RYF Member, John Meza, is Cycling for a Cause
When new RYF member John Meza initially aspired to participate in the 2015 Best Buddies Challenge (BBC) ride on September 12, he did not even have a bike. A long time runner, John, found the ride online and was drawn to it because of the charity it supports and the location, a favorite of his and wife Marisue’s, the spectacular Central California coast. Founded in 1989 by Anthony Kennedy Shriver, the Best Buddies program strives to create one-to-one friendships between people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and volunteers who provide support and socialization, as well as employment and leadership development. Today, the Best Buddies program has grown to include more than 1,900 middle school, high school, and college campuses around the United States and internationally on six continents, reaching 900,000 individuals each year.
John started riding in July 2014 with a bike loaned to him by a neighbor. John began training by riding along Sunset in Redlands, near his home. In April, John joined RYF, seeking to improve his cycling skills and to learn group riding etiquette as preparation to ride the 62-mile route in the BBC. That’s a pretty decisive action for one to make, and behind that action was John and Marisue’s own personal story of parenting a child with autism and a desire to support the good work of the Best Buddies program in improving the lives of individuals with special needs and their families.
John and Marisue had two children, a son and a daughter. Their daughter, eighteen-year-old Sarah, recently graduated from Redlands High School and will begin attending college at CSUSB this fall. Their son, Matthew, was a bright young boy who loved Legos and had autism. In 2006 at the age of 13, he passed away, leaving a lasting gift of love that strongly impacts his family today. John expressed the sadness of a parent who did not get the opportunity to see his son grow into a young man, but who also cherishes thousands of fond memories of times shared with Matthew. Marisue, a Special Education teacher in Yucaipa, is keenly aware of the significant benefits brought to students and families by the Best Buddies program. Their personal experience and the short, well-lived life of Matthew is John and Marisue’s motivation for choosing to participate as a team in the BBC this year.
Though John initially aspired to riding the 62-mile route in the BBC, he has since upped his challenge to the 100-mile route, starting in Carmel and continuing down Pacific Coast Highway to San Simeon. Since joining RYF in April, John has come to as many Saturday rides as he can and also some of the Wednesday training rides. When you see John ride, you’ll be astounded that he has been cycling only since March of this year, and you’ll be lucky if you can keep up with him on a climb! Though he approached cycling as a means to accomplish the goal of doing the BBC, he has found that he truly enjoys it, and is the proud owner of a brand new Trek Domane 4.5, so look out – John is in it to win it! While John rides, accompanied by one of Matthew’s favorite Lego men in his jersey, Marisue will walk the scenic beachside 5K event in San Simeon. Both events conclude at Hearst Ranch in San Simeon.
Together, this inspiring couple has embarked on an aggressive goal to raise $2,600 for the Best Buddies program. Participants are rewarded for their efforts with an amazing event experience that ends with an extravagant barbecue party and concert at Hearst Ranch. Consistent with the grandeur of the historic property, the event draws celebrities who mingle and participate in the pre- and post-event festivities.
The RYF family is so much more than a cycling club. We are a group that collectively knows the pain of loss, the challenges of life, and the joys of friendship and fellowship. We lend support and celebrate victories, large and small, understanding that what we can do as a group is far greater than what we can individually accomplish. You can be part of John and Marisue’s victory by sponsoring their team with an online donation via their BBC fundraising page: http://myhc.bestbuddieschallenge.org/jmezazap.
By spreading the word via social media, you also contribute to their success, so please ‘like,’ ‘share,’ and promote to your online community of friends! John and Marisue, RYF is proud of you! Our faith in you is strong and we will be close in spirit, cheering you to your goal and the finish line on September 12. Thank you for sharing your story with us, reminding us that life, no matter how long or short, is precious. Your son’s life remains a gift and we admire your assurance of his legacy through committing to this incredible event. Good luck, have fun, and God bless!