Tuesday, June 28, 2005

In Remembrance of Ramie

We all started this trip for a variety of different reasons. For some,
it was to test ourselves with the challenge of biking over 4,400 miles
in a single summer. For others, it was to take advantage of the
opportunity to see the country intimately, one small town at a time.
And for most of us, it was simply a way to have an amazing adventure and
forge incredible new friendships before taking the next step in our
lives. Whatever our initial motivations, we all came together back in
New Haven, CT, knowing that our journey would be an unforgettable
experience.

Over the weeks that have followed, our group has become more closely
knit than many of us would have imagined possible. Whether it means
trading massages for aching muscles, sharing inside jokes and personal
stories, or just being willing to ride in front and take the wind for
the others on a hard day of riding, we look out for each other and take
care of one another each and every day of our journey. From joys to
sorrows, every experience throughout this trip has been a shared one.

On June 19, Ramie Speight, a member of our group, was killed outside of
Henderson, Kentucky. For many of us, her death has been one of the most
difficult challenges we have ever faced. The days following the
accident were very emotionally turbulent for our entire group, but after
many long hours of group discussion and deliberation, most of us decided
to continue the rest of the way to San Francisco. Getting back on our
bikes was incredibly hard, the difficult terrain of the Ozarks made only
more unbearable by the heaviness we all carried with us those first few
days. We lost a few members of our group, but we know that they and
Ramie will always be in our thoughts and we will carry them all with us
across the Golden Gate Bridge at the end of July.

Our decision to continue our journey was not an easy one to make, and we
couldn't have done it without the kindness and generosity of everyone
who has done so much for us in the past week. The outpouring of support
we have received has been truly incredible.

Ramie's parents have been unbelievable, encouraging us to keep going and
assuring us that Ramie would have wanted us to continue in her memory.
The pastor from the United Methodist Church and the director of the
Habitat for Humanity Chapter in Morganfield, Kentucky shuttled our
entire group and our bike the 90 miles to Carbondale, IL so that we
could take a day off before riding our bikes again without getting off
schedule. The director of the New Haven chapter of Habitat for Humanity
flew out to visit our group and reassure us personally. We've had
countless phone calls from the Habitat for Humanity Board of Directors,
HBC alumni from the earliest trips to the most recent, and, of course,
all of our family members and friends. To everyone we've mentioned here
and everyone we haven't, we truly appreciate everything that has been
done for us and all the offers for help that we've received. Thank you
for all of your support.

Together, we're ready to face the new challenge of not only continuing
our journey, but continuing it in tribute to Ramie. She will always be
missed, but we will all keep her memory alive with each mile we put
behind us on our way to San Francisco.

For more details, some of the news articles that we've found to be the
best can be found here:

The Houston Chronicle

http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/front/3233909

and

The Yale Daily News

http://www.yaledailynews.com/default.asp?IssueID=1568