Ride-n-raise/rock-n-roll: JBBBS Development Associate, Zoa Mish, on the Rodman Ride

Zoa and her husband, Gavin, work the water stop!

Zoa and her husband, Gavin, work the water stop!

A few blogs ago you read about our fabulous volunteer, Lisa Kessel,  her friend, Meredith, and their experience volunteering at the JBBBS water stop at last year’s Rodman Ride for Kids. At JBBBS, we like to do things Bigger and Better, so I am excited to announce that – if you were inspired by Lisa and Meredith’s story – there are still opportunities for volunteers to join us September 20 at our Lake Massapoag water stop in Sharon! This year, we’ll be “Rock-n-rolling, Elvis Style!”

Help us make the Big Brothers Big Sisters water stop for the Rodman Ride for Kids a safe and fun place for those riding-n-raising on behalf of the 45 non-profits participating in the Ride. Set up, decorate and prepare snacks for the more than 1200 riders to pass through that day. Dig into your closet for something that screams rock-n-roll and wear it  for a chance to win gift certificates to popular coffee places and restaurants!

Not riding-n-raising? Spend three hours with us. Here’s what you need to know.

Location: Lake Massapoag (1 Beach St., Sharon, MA)

Date: Saturday, September 20

Time: 7:30 am to 3:00 pm (various volunteer shifts available)

Cost: Free!!

For  more information contact me, Zoa Mish, directly at zoa@jbbbs.org, and I will be more than happy to send you information about this fabulous opportunity to give back to JBBBS.

I can’t wait to hear from you.

Why I Ride: First-time rider, Karen Nahary.

For the past two years, I have been fortunate to have been matched with my Little Sister, Lexi. During our time as a match, we have grown so close, and I cannot see my life without Lexi in it. We have done so many fun activities together: bowling, prom dress shopping, exploring Boston, starting the college application process. I have watched Lexi become a mature teenager, on the verge of young adulthood. I feel fortunate to have become like Lexi’s extended family, and the JBBBS organization helped create this perfect match. Without support given by our amazing social worker, Lexi and I wouldn’t be where we are today! Indeed, the entire JBBBS staff has been fantastic!

With this in mind, we signed up to participate in this year’s Rodman Ride for Kids. We’re riding because we get to go it together. We wanted to challenge ourselves physically. (Since we have been matched, we promised that we would get fit, so this is one of the great motivators for us to start riding and becoming more active.) We also wanted to give back to JBBBS by helping fundraise! In the end, Lexi and I are so looking forward to another great adventure together.

Cheer on Karen, and other JBBBS/YoPro riders this September 20!

Why I Ride (tandem): Jessi Solomon.

I am so excited that my new friend, Julia, and I will be riding tandem in the 2014 Rodman Ride for Kids. This past June, I moved to Boston to accept a first job as a physician: a residency in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities at Boston Children’s Hospital – and Julia is among my new friends here.

We were introduced through JBBBS’ Friend 2 Friend Program three months ago, and she has already influenced my life more than I expected she might. I was drawn to Friend 2 Friend right away. I went to college and medical school at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, where I was active in the school’s Best Buddies chapter and where I was introduced to my Best Buddy (and now best friend), Christy. We changed a lot in those eight years and achieved a lot together.  When I moved to Boston, I knew I wanted to have another friend with whom I could try new things, inspire/be inspired, and spread the word about how wonderful it is to live in an inclusive community. To me, friendship is the most meaningful way to truly include people with disabilities in the community.

With Julia, I’ve replicated that experience. She loves William Shakespeare, musicals, good food, and hanging out with friends. I love bike-riding, music, hiking, performing arts, and hanging out with friends. We enjoy some of these activities in common, and we love discovering new things.

Julia and Jessi, tandem.

Julia and Jessi, tandem.

Recently, we picnicked and watched a Shakespeare on the Common production of “Twelfth Night.” I was in awe of Julia’s complex understanding and appreciation of the arts; she understood the language and humor better than I, and her enthusiasm enriched the experience for me. In just the past three months, I have tried Russian food for the first time, Julia has been sailing and biking for the first time, we have listened to music, played music, enjoyed art galleries, attended cultural festivals, learned about each other’s families, and talked about our days at work over the phone. I know the friendship has meant a lot to Julia, as it has for me. Recently, we spent a full day together exploring Boston, giggling, bicycling around, and meeting new friends. “Jess, you’re spoiling me,” she said. Both of us truly appreciate the time we spend together; we’re always finding more in common and lots to learn from one another.

Julia had never ridden a bike before. I have been riding bikes since early childhood. In Nashville, I taught my Buddy, Christy, to ride a tandem bike, and we loved riding all around Tennessee.  Through that program, I helped create a tandem bike “team” of pairs of friends with and without intellectual/developmental disabilities. But, Julia and her mother did not think there would be any way Julia would be able to ride a bike. She’d never tried. Because I am pretty small, they thought Julia and I would not be able to balance on a tandem together. In truth, it is not easy for anyone to bike on a tandem, especially when first learning to balance/focus together. As the name “tandem” implies, every movement must be made in tandem in order to ride without falling.

I reassured Julia and her mom that I knew Julia had it in her to ride. She is motivated to try new things, and I could sense that she would succeed. She did: We balanced on our first try and rode all the way around Jamaica Pond. Julia surprised herself and takes enormous pride in proving she can indeed achieve a goal her mother thought impossible. Her pride helps keep me going on the bike. Now Julia and I ride tandem at least once a week, and Julia trains on a stationary bike at the JCC. Together, we are training to support the Rodman Ride on September 20, to challenge ourselves to ride, to bond in the process through 25 miles of tandem pedaling. We hope to inspire other Friend 2 Friend pairs to challenge each other to pursue activities they may not have thought possible.

William Shakespeare said, “A friend is one that knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts what you have become, and still, gently allows you to grow.” Through the Friend 2 Friend Program, Julia and I have begun to grow together. I know our friendship will blossom and that we will have many more meaningful interactions and experiences together.

Why I Ride: Justin Gilson.

Shortly, I will be riding in my third Rodman Ride for Kids with Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters’ “YoPro” (Young Professionals) Team – and I fully expect this year to be better than the last. With each year, the support and turnout feels bigger and better, which in turn makes me even more excited to ride.

I am fortunate that the Ride takes us through several towns which include my hometown! As I bike through the familiar streets, the highlight of the day is certainly riding past my family’s home and seeing them cheer me and the rest of the cyclists on.  It is amazing to see so many people participate and volunteer from the community where I grew up.

Given the hundreds of people on the course representing numerous organizations, I always like how our YoPro and JBBBS teams are given custom biking shirts, which make us easy to pick out of the crowd. It’s a shirt – but I think it adds to a sense of camaraderie and team spirit. Our team also sets up practice rides leading up to race day that allow us to hang out a bit more (not to mention give us all a little extra exercise for those 10-mile weekend rides).

Besides the ridiculous amounts of food  donated last year (donuts, bagels, and BBQ lunch!) I thoroughly enjoyed recruiting my younger brother to ride along with our YoPro team. It was a fun day all-around, made even better by having family ride with me. (Of course in typical younger brother fashion, we were neck-and-neck for 24.9 miles…until he decided to kick it into another gear at the finish line.)

Bros at the water stop.

Bros at the water stop.

Although the Rodman Ride will, no doubt, be awesome in 2014, I will make sure it’s made more so by beating my brother to the finish.