3rd week – Key West to Ocala

Apologies for the tardiness of this blog.  Here were the highlights of the 3rd week.

Monday – Mar 18 – Key West to Tavenier – a long ride over a lot of water, no shoulders, brilliant sunshine, a 7-mile bridge and a strong headwind, glad to be getting close to the mainland.

Tuesday – Mar 19 – Tavenier t0 Tamiami (Miccosukee Casino) – moving from urban area to completely flat terrain, dull overcast morning burning off to a warm bright day.  Finding the Casino was a godsend!  All you could eat buffet was very welcomed.

Wednesday – Mar 20 – Tamiami to Clewiston – moving north about 80 miles with only one gas station along the way.  Key lesson learned:  carry a minimum of 4 quarts of water/sports drinks if you go over 40 miles!  Had a super Cuban supper in Clewiston.

Thursday – Mar 21 – Clewiston t0 Sebring – another hot day going up the center of Florida.  Sebring was a welcome stop at about 2:00 pm – having an early supper listening to the senior citizens at the local diner was the evening’s entertainment.

Friday – Mar 22 – Sebring to Minneola – 89 miles!  Long day made longer by an hour & 15 minutes delay in check in due to computer glitches, but it was countered by eating at the Honey Hive restaurant – all you could eat fish supper.

Sat – Mar 23 – Minneola to Ocala – made it into Ocala by midday, sat in the hotel lobby until the room was ready, then walking down to the local Winn Dixie for provisions.  Rest day – Sunday – was also in Ocala.

 

2nd week – Davie, FL

I’m finding that as I’m on this journey, particular things tend to dominate:  the weather, the terrain, the scenery, the desire to get as far as possible as quickly as possible, the destination, and so on.

But with the 2nd week of my journey, it’s the people of Davie, FL.  All of these folks are unique in their own right, with specific talents & gifts, but the folks that I want to focus on are the people that are making the LCpl Janos V Lutz Live To Tell Foundation a positive force to save and transform people’s lives.

Janos Lutz was a Marine Lance Corporal who served his country in both Iraq and Afghanistan, suffered from Post Traumatic Stress, and took his own life on January 12, 2013.

If I had suffered devastating turn of events, I would have difficulty in coping with day to day events for a very, very long time.  However, his mother, Janine Lutz, possesses the positive grit & determination to transform this deeply personal tragedy into a inclusive, life-affirming force to help others in similar situations.

Although Janine and her Foundation have several goals, two particularly resonated with me.

The first is about PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).  Janine immediately points out that it is important to drop the word ‘Disorder’ from this phrase, and with good reason.  It helps no one to keep reiterating and internalizing a ‘disorder’; it actually furthers to stigmatize and disempower the person with the condition.  Janine prefers to use the term, Post Traumatic Stress Growth, which I think is a true game changer, which focuses on growth.  The key is to grow through all experiences (both positive & negative) and emerge a stronger, more resilient individual than before.  What a great concept!

The second objective is to stop veteran suicide.  Not reduce, not decrease – TO STOP.  Wow!  Talk about a SMART goal.  By SMART I mean (Stupendous, Momentous, Awesome, Revolutionary, & Transformational).  It sets a high standard and this standard deserves to be set at this level.  If there has ever been a goal worthy of a “zero-defect”, this has to be one of them.

Janine & her team are using a Buddy Up Program to identify veterans from Iraq & Afghanistan and pair them up with other veterans that have similar experiences with tools and assistance that can be downloaded from her website, http://lcpllutzlivetotell.org/

Not only did Janine open her house to me for three days, she and her team also planned, prepared, and conducted a deeply emotional & touching memorial  ceremony at the town hall of Davie on March 14 that I will remember for a very long time, with the Mayor, Council Members, the Leathernecks, and local citizens – in a phrase – very, very moving.

Then, as icing on the cake, arranging to be hosted at a VIP suite at the Florida Panthers Ice Hockey Game that night where I was honored and humbled to be recognized for what we are all trying to do – Giving Back To Those Who Have Served.

So to Janine and her Team – Andrew, Angel, Collos, Rene, Shep, & Terry, my thanks to you all – ordinary people doing extraordinary things and in the process, thus becoming extraordinary in their own right.

North to Alaska!