So it is one day before I start the journey of my life between Land’s End and John O’Groats on a bicycle to End Polio Now. Yesterday there was a lengthy packing session which resulted in a big pile of stuff at home. You simply cannot afford to forget anything!
So there I was in the process of arranging food at one side, clothes at the other, route maps, chargers and accessories there, spares and tools here, etc. Then the clever question made by my 4-year-old daughter came: Daddy are you sure you can carry all that on your bicycle? Are you really sure?
Yes, I packed a lot of stuff, probably the same everyone else does for a similar journey. Amongst all the obvious necessities, there are 2 unique objects that are very special to me. They are the subject of this story.
The first one is a silver medal of St. Christopher with a bicycle around my neck. To be honest I do not normally wear something like this, but in a few days it has become very close to my heart. Last Wednesday it was the last Rotary meeting I attended before setting off to start this challenge. All my fellow Rotarians had arranged to give me this during what was probably the most emotional Rotary meeting I have ever attended. We have really worked so hard at the Rotary Club of Portobello to make this a reality. I am cycling, but all my fellow Rotarians have been through a long journey too. Fundraising has been relentless, car boot sales, raffles, bucket collections, plant sales, parties, you name it… They have done everything they can in both the real and the virtual worlds. So St. Christopher, the patron saint of travellers is meant to protect me, but it will also remind me of them and the journey we have come through. I know that the medal will not only give me protection, but also lots of strength.
Then there is something that has travelled so much already, something older than anyone can imagine. It is a very special stone that has probably seen it all. There was once upon a girl who went for a long walk with her father in South Africa. On a sunny day she got attracted by a sparkle in the ground and thought it was a diamond, so she picked it up… This was more than 20 years ago and since that day, this special stone stayed on the pocket of her father who took it everywhere he went whether it was a walk, a marathon, a plane journey or a day at the office… The girl in the story is my wife, and the stone passed to me about 10 years ago when we got engaged. And so the stone keeps travelling: This time across the UK and on a bicycle. It means a lot to me… And now here I am wishing that the distance between Land’s End and John O’Groats was a “stone’s-throw” away. This stone is a very old stone. It most likely belonged to a witch doctor and was used to grind medicine. It has seen smallpox disappear from the planet, and who knows what else… Will you help me to give it the chance to see polio be eradicated too? With your help we can all witness this. End Polio Now.
End Polio Now