My friend, Tina asked if I’d like to volunteer by driving some college students to a few places… they’re cycling from Austin, Texas (hence, the name Texas 4000) to Anchorage, Alaska and had a stopover in St. Louis. The cyclists are students from UT (University of Texas). Check out Texas4000.org for more info and I guarantee you will be impressed.
I was clueless as I arrived at the Maplewood Richmond Heights High School that housed these students during their stay in St. Louis. They split the students among the six of us volunteer drivers. Between Paige and myself, who were going to Cardinal Glennon Hospital, we had: Alex, Zoe, Abigail, Blake, Joey, Dan, and Tuan.
We started out at St. Louis Bread Co., and while in line, an elderly couple saw the back of their shirts (Fighting Cancer Every Mile) and thanked them for what they were doing. They were both cancer survivors. The entire group turned around and engaged with the couple, listened to their stories, then asked their names and said they would be riding for them too. I was so touched by their sweetness.
From there we went to the St. Louis Zoo. It was so crowded that we dropped them off. Paige and I parked near the Art Museum and waited for their call. It was nice getting to know Paige as we admired the view.
Paige received a call – half the group wanted to go have lunch, the other half wanted to continue at the zoo. She took her group to Adrianna’s on The Hill. I waited, snapped a few photos, then did some research on Texas 4000. Wow, why didn’t I do this before? I listened to the videos of Alex, Zoe, and Abigail. (Later I listened to the others.) Talk about impressive. I was hooked and knew I’d be following the group to Anchorage. Not in my car, just online.
While at the zoo, someone lost their phone, but it was turned in at the Lost and Found, at the opposite entrance of where I was to pick them up.
“Can you pick us up at the South entrance?”
“Sure, if I can find it. I am directionally challenged.” I hung up and called my husband. “Where’s the South entrance of the zoo?”
“Where we always go in at.”
Hmmm, I thought the North entrance was where we went in at. Since we were running behind to get them to their appointment, I called them apologizing and asked if they could just go to the North entrance. Boy did I feel like a dope. But in no time, they piled in the car and off we headed to Cardinal Glennon Hospital.
They presented gifts (for the children/patients at the hospital) to Meredith, who gave us a tour. I was quite impressed and learned so much about a great hospital in my hometown.
After the tour, we were off to Ted Drewes for St. Louis’ famous custard—they totally enjoyed it.
They heard toasted ravioli was another St. Louis thing and wondered whether time would allow them to go to The Hill to try it—and off we went to Guido’s.
I told them I wished I had been thinking to bake them a Gooey Butter Cake—another St. Louis thing.
“What’s Gooey Butter Cake?”
I explained it.
“Can we get it somewhere?”
“There is one place that I hear makes a pretty good one ‘Gooey Louie’ however, homemade is the way to go. Ugh, don’t ever buy it in the store.” If anyone is reading this and wants to try it out for themselves—you know, bake it for your own friends and family, go to my dessert blog: Lynn, What's for Dessert?
Tina called to thank me for volunteering. I thanked her and told her I’d be happy to do it again next year. I told her how sweet the group of students I had were and how after we left Cardinal Glennon, Alex asked if there was someone I’d like them to ride for.
“Um, actually, my mom. She died of breast cancer when I was 12.”
“What’s her name?”
“Can you tell me a little something about her?”
I was stumped because no one really asked me that question before. I had to think, what is she like? How do I describe her? She was a homemaker. She sewed, cooked, etc., but instead I blurted out about my watermelon story. Tina attended the fundraiser event that evening and told me how each one shared a little story and that ‘Lynn and her mom about the watermelon was mentioned.’
“Awww, how sweet.” A lump in my throat formed and I choked back tears.
I think about what an incredible journey these young folks are taking—the growth they’ll experience, and what an awesome adventure in helping such a cause. I overheard them always thanking everyone they came into contact with. They thanked me for driving them every time they got into the car. Observing them gave me hope for the future. I’d like to end by thanking them.
They actually asked if they could have a picture with me when I dropped them off at the school. I was so touched.
I crawled out of bed this morning around 8:00 and the first thing I thought about was the Texas 4000 group already cycling on the road for an hour. They were headed to the St. Louis Arch and then on their 100 mile trek for the day. I hope the Arch inspired them as they continue on.
As I mentioned, I’m hooked and will be following this awesome group through the rest of their journey, helping a bit financially… wishing them safety and sending love. Perhaps y’all might want to do the same.
Here are links to "my" group (although I never had Dan and Tuan in my car):
These students are so incredibly grateful to anyone and everyone who supports them even in the tiniest way... if there's anything you can do to help, they'd love it.