Posted by: Don Linnen | 29 July 2007


This year’s Tour de France ended today. Camp Esperanza ended yesterday.

The Tour de France is a 100+ year old bike race across Europe. Camp Esperanza is a 25 year old summer camp for kids fighting cancer in Texas.

Le Tour is 21 teams of 9 vying for fame and glory (and considerable monetary rewards) by racing bicycles across Europe to get to Paris first. Camp Esperanza is 10 teams of 6 volunteer counselors working with 10 groups of about 14 children ranging in age from 6 to 16. All the kids are or have been fighting cancer at Children’s Medical Center in Dallas, Texas.

The Tour lasts for nearly three weeks and covers over 2000 miles of beautiful European countryside. Camp Esperanza lasts for one week at the Camp John Marc facility on the border of the beautiful Texas Hill Country near Meridian, Texas.

Both have sophisticated support staffs and spend many months planning each year’s event. (Camp John Marc is probably one of the premier camps for medically fragile children in the world.)

What amazes my simple mind are the remarkable parallels between these two radically different adventures. It gets back to working together. The guys on the bikes can go fast and help each other by riding in pacelines. (See my blog of July 10, 2007.) The same goes for the men and women working with the nearly 140 kids who epitomize diversity.

Three busloads of children arrive on Sunday and depart for home the following Friday. The kids range from future linebackers to some who are near the need for (or are actually in) hospice.

For some of the children, it is the first time they’ve been away from home. For some of their parents, it is the first time they’ve let go of their children since they’ve been diagnosed with cancer. For nearly everyone, it is the best week of the year.

It is an exhilarating, exhausting, challenging, fun, sad, hope filled week. It’s tough for me to restrain myself from writing way more than you wanna read about this special week in July.

My point today is that the ONLY way the volunteer counselors get through that incredible week is by working (and playing) together.

It is a beautiful thing to see. Just like a paceline.

BTW, “esperanza” is Spanish for “hope.”


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