I, Andrew, had been looking forward to joining Blind Bikers Across America ever since my friend invited me to apply with him. Although being excited about the upcoming adventure, it was a little intimidating not knowing whom I was to be teamed up with and what to expect until I arrived at the event. I had hardly ridden a tandem bicycle before much less with an unsighted partner. All of the apprehension subsided when introductions and the first few practice rides came and went. What a lesson in trust! Courtney, my tandem bike partner, and I hit it off right away. While undertaking 110 miles of incredible biking, we talked almost non-stop about her life, my life, the sights of the bike journey, and countless topics. My life was greatly enriched by getting to know her and by the conversations that we shared. God unquestionably had His hand in grouping us together.
This trip was packed full of one exciting thing after another. Along our route, the Natchez Trace Parkway, we stopped to explore some historical landmarks and creation's wonders. About three quarters through our first day of gradual inclines and steep demanding hills, a waterfall beside the parkway was a much-coveted excursion. What a refreshing respite to rinse off and cool down from the heat and arduous biking.
Friday we toured Helen Keller’s home; it was her birthplace, where Anne Sullivan, her teacher, taught her to speak through sign language.
We were so fortunate to explore the entire house. Most can only gaze into each room from a barred entrance, but being privileged to be with the group from the Blind Bikers Across America, we were able to see and touch everything from inside the rooms, not simply from the doorways. As a captain for the event, I was the eyes for my partner, Courtney. This was an incredible lesson from history and a vivid lesson in serving others … this is a memory that will be permanently etched in my mind.
After touring the house, we made our way outside where we saw plaques and monuments.
The water pump where Helen's teacher, Anne, finally was able to break through to her.
We also came across the tree where Helen did most of her learning. Mike, a very determined individual, decided that if Helen could climb that tree to learn her lessons, he could climb up it too! It was exciting to watch him strain for the next knob to place his hands, pull himself up the last bit, and sit up there with a big smile on his face at his accomplishment.
While preparing for the trip, my mindset was that of desiring to be a blessing, an encouragement, and a help to those our society sees as handicapped. Yet, I came away the greater for the experience; deeply blessed and feeling encouraged. I learned to truly see life in a new and different light, to appreciate God’s gifts and provisions more deeply, and to enjoy serving others more fully.
I’m definitely looking forward to next year!!