My week was complete as I got to introduce myself to Matt Eddy and his crew late Friday afternoon.
I caught up with them in Springfield, at the end of a 20 mile day, in a Walgreens parking lot. Matt was just rolling to a stop, and his roadside endspot was marked with their blue placard (visible on left). Each day's travel is filmed by Dani (left), beginning and ending with this mile marker, as part of tracking and verifying the trip for a Guiness World Record.
I got the 10 minute tour of the RV that David (right) drives for the crew, where Matt's two dogs, Daisy and Maia reside. Ron (in white) rides a bike alongside Matt on the road, ever vigilant of trache managment and Matt's needs, sleeping on the floor next to Matt's bed at night. His energetic personality makes him a wonderful ambassador for Matt as well as primary support person, two roles he seems to fill effortlessly, with a great deal of joy. Dani bikes along too while filming. Matt graciously chatted with me in the parking lot for a few minutes.
I learned from Matt that their first trip across country in 2008 raised enough money to keep up with their expenses, but not a lot for their cause. He and Ron were able to gain enough support to provide housing for one more individual with severe disabilities who otherwise would have been institutionalized. "It's really a person by person process," said Matt.
Indeed, it is an enormous effort to travel across country raising awareness and funds, knowing the results are likely to be so incremental. In my own work I've seen that even when only one person shows up and is served in an outdoor recreation program, the results look small on paper, but in real life they are often so transformational they become mighty. I was encouraged by the fact that just an hour or so before I found Matt and his gang, they had been interviewed by FOX ABC News.
"You've done this before," I said to Matt, "and it isn't easy. What is the best part of this journey?"
"The things I see and the people I meet," he answered without hesitation.
Matt, I love that you are out there, rolling along, day by day, looking at the world. The cracks in the pavement, the litter, the flowers people have planted, wild grasses, the trees, the cities, the views of rolling hills and sky. There are too many people stuck inside, unable to get out and move independently, without much chance to meet new friends. Your journey shows us all what is possible, with positive intention, devoted support from a few good souls and a whole lot of new faces along the way. Thanks for doing it again, and letting me touch the tail of your comet as you streaked by! May the road unfold before you with ease ~ May countless people be transformed as you pass by!
Anyone who would like to support Matt's Place and track their jouney can do so at http://officialmattsplace.org/