July 2, 2017 - Albuquerqu, NM - 0 miles
Before I signed up for Journey of Hope, I was told by many that this would be a life changing experience. While I believed them, I certainly didn't expect it to happen so suddenly.
Today, we got a chance to rest our legs and have some fun here in Albuquerque, NM. After a delicious diner breakfast, we had a chance to try out sled hockey with the Carrie Tingley Hospital Foundation. Sled hockey is the equivalent of wheelchair basketball but doubly as difficult. The player must sit on a specially made sled with 2 skate blades attached, and push off with sharp edges on the backs of 2 smaller hockey sticks. I had a lot of fun reliving my glory days as a benchwarmer on my high school's varsity hockey team. But more than anything, I got a chance to see these incredible kids play a sport I love (better than I can).
For dinner, we traveled to a local park to meet a couple of incredible people. First, there was Tonya Rivera. She is an activist, businesswoman and an overall rockstar. She has been fighting for accessible play areas for people with all abilities to play together. Though she has Cerebral Palsy, she has accomplished so much in New Mexico and pledged to continue fighting this fight.
Then there's Joaquin. Joaquin was my life-changer today. Though his disability confines him to a wheelchair, he showed up today with a super cool accessible bicycle. He waved to me and I sat next to him, letting him rest his head on my shoulder, give me high fives and occasionally, play a game of "hit Murphy in the face and laugh at him". (Kid's got a serious left hook) But most of all, knowing that he, despite not being able to talk, was having fun and becoming my friend was the best part of today and the trip thus far. I decided that it would only be appropriate if he became an honorary team member and was given the honor of presenting him with our team tee shirt. I'll miss my man Joaquin, but he'll be my inspiration as we take on an 80-mile ride tomorrow!
Iota Lambda (Quinnipiac University)