Red Sox and a 3400 mile bicycle ride: Handshake #2

May 15, 2013 - 8 minutes read

You never know who you might be sitting or standing next to and how shaking hands with them can introduce you to stellar human beings or people with fantastic stories. Here’s another great “handshake” story of my own.

Upon receiving a generous gift of 2 tickets to see the Red Sox play the San Diego Padres, I enthusiastically invited my Dad to come along with me. This has become our “thing” over the past several years; I bring him to as many professional ball games as I can. The last Sox game we went to it poured like crazy, I’m talking massive downpours and the game was called, I believe in the 6th or 7th inning. Fortunately this was a nice and dry evening, perfect weather for baseball.

We had excellent seats, close to the end of the row and right next to the ramp to go inside for food and restrooms. This is one of my most favorite things, hanging with my Dad, just me and my Dad at a sports game. I grew up watching and learning all about sports with him and am still a huge fan. It’s definitely one of the things that he and I connect on and reminisce about frequently. It’s become customary for us, we eat Fenway franks and he tells me about what Fenway Park was like when he was a boy. We sling baseball and sports stats back and forth and I love it, it’s such a change of pace for me and I really cherish these times. I’m planning to surprise him with Green Monster seats next time as he’s never sat up there. I will have to get to work on those connections 😉

At this game I ended up sitting next to

a guy who I would describe as being a flat-out homerun. We joked a bit in the first inning as I made sure he knew he was on foul ball duty, meaning that if any rogue balls came our way that he was to catch them! This was a great game and we were standing up & hooting and hollering frequently, high-fiving each other and doing the wave. Eventually we began chatting a bit more and I quickly discerned he had an accent. Come to find out he is from Ireland, but that’s not near the coolest part nor the reason I am writing about him for Handshake of the Week.

Ricky had JUST completed a 3,415 mile bicycle ride across the country a few days before the baseball game. A 60-day grueling course that began in California culminated in Massachusetts with a celebration and his parents flew in to be with him. The three of them were at the Sox game together, their first time attending a Major League Baseball game. And lucky him, he got to sit next to me, HAHAHA!

Jillian & Ricky meet at Red Sox game

Jillian & Ricky meet at Red Sox game

Here’s what really caught my attention and prompted me to want to introduce and share him and his story with you. He had never ridden in anything as physically demanding and flat out gladiator-esque as the Cycle Across America. And would you believe he only really began training outdoors in about February, just 3 months before the ride began? He was telling me that the weather in Ireland wasn’t cooperating and prevented him from getting outside to train before February.

This means that in 3 short months he trained and pushed himself so hard to be as prepared as humanly possible for his pending pedal across the States. He actually registered for the ride before he even began training. That blows my mind still! I don’t know about you but that fired me up and gave me massive respect for him. This to me is a story, a handshake, worth sharing. I absolutely love hearing about and meeting people who make decisions and go for big time challenges. People who challenge themselves, who epitomize what the human spirit is capable of, these are the people that I love to familiarize myself with and spend time around.

What makes it that much more inspiring is:

learning more about the catalyst for Ricky making the decision to sign up for this colossal undertaking. His primary purpose was to raise funds and awareness for the Eating Disorder Association of Northern Ireland. You see, Ricky’s life was affected in a deeply personal way by the destruction of eating disorders because his sister, Debbie has battled them for years.

Taking something that carried such weight and that inspired him to the core, Ricky dedicated himself to this effort. For those of you reading this who live in the States, you might be surprised to learn that there are NO treatment facilities for eating disorders in Northern Ireland. HUGE #kudos to Ricky for taking bold action to honor something that is meaningful to not only him and his family but that also impacts an entire country. Seriously, take a look at some statistics from the US on eating disorders and ask yourself, imagine how many people are suffering with no access to treatment.

In the US:

  • 50% of people know someone with an eating disorder*
  • 95% of those with eating disorders are between the ages of 12-25*
  • With treatment, about sixty percent (60%) of people with eating disorders recover**

A night at the ballpark with my Dad led me to meet my new friend Ricky. My hope is that this story will encourage you to open yourself up a bit and engage with people who are placed in your path. You never know who you’ll meet and the incredibly inspiring stories you can hear. For me, I love nothing more than meeting people like Ricky who are making a difference in the world and sharing them and their stories as far and wide as I can. Way to go Ricky!


To read more about Ricky’s 3,415 mile bicycle journey across the United States click HERE.

*Source: National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, South Carolina Department of Mental Health, Collins, M.E. (1991). Body figure perceptions and preferences among pre-adolescent children

**The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders