I had the pleasure of meeting Will over the phone for an interview for an article I am writing about a grand race called El Tour De Tucson. My angle was on certain riders who had faced obstacles in their life that were difficult to overcome but through the training and accomplishment of the race, they had, in a way, achieved more than crossing the finish line. In Will’s case, he has been battling melanoma for three years. Two days after riding the 2010 El Tour De Tucson, he had his right eye removed. He saw it as his “last possible ride”. This year’s ride, however, took on another meaning. Will rode with two significant people in his life, on both sides of him; Erec on one side and Tom on the other. Because of his limited vision, Will had the fear of crashing or even knocking someone over, that’s when he was humbled and open to receive help. He told me that it might sound odd, but this race became a spiritual event for him. I saw nothing odd in that statement. This year it became about being grateful and it was no longer about the “macho b.s.” About three weeks before the ride (he was still undecided about riding), Will decided to fly down from Indiana and join the race. He knew he would regret it if he didn’t. El Tour affirmed the journey of this last year facing the limitation of surgery and recovery. It was not about the bike ride, it was about pushing beyond limits, limits of cancer.
Will saw the ride as symbolic; a “life-giving” experience.
For Tom, having Will come back brought meaning to the ride. For Erec, the ride was not about finishing first or beating your previous time, it was a service to others.
“I couldn’t have gotten through without them” Said Will.
I received an email from Erec this morning:
I am delighted you got a chance to talk to Will and Tom.
And I doubt that Will told you, but his cancer had metastasized.
He has a bad prognosis, but is looking at various treatments.
This is just a post script to your article, a sad one.
Please don’t mention to him that I told you, but I thought you should know.
Will has been given six months to live. He has a wife and children.
I told Erec, I’m not sure if it means much, but I am praying for Will, I believe God can heal.
Erec said, I share that same belief.
I have only known Erec for a few months through my job at The University of Arizona. He has frequently visited my office and has shared bits of life lessons throughout our conversations. He stood out to me because of his genuineness. He was interested in my life. He told me once that I brought life to humanity, and though it sounds like an odd compliment, it made sense to me. I saw the same thing in him. I think, in a way, Jesus connects us believers. When you encounter someone who has a genuine spirit and truly loves, you just know. You know why they are different, because so are you.