Last year, in the middle of our darkest days surrounding our brother’s accident, I knew that I would need to hold tightly onto anything positive that came out of such a horrible time. I insisted to Mr. Lemon that we would need to make something good come out of it because I could not allow it to be all bad.
In the beginning, the organ donation was the first thing I clung to. I wanted so desperately to reach out to the recipients. To tell them about our amazing brother and exactly how special the gift they carried really was. I truly regret that I have not yet written such a letter. In time.
We knew Rob had plans to open a bike shop and then Mr. Lemon’s mom shared with us that he also had dreams of some day giving bikes to kids in need. Rob knew that giving a bike could expand a child’s potential. It would open their world and their possibilities. And we knew that THIS was the good we could do. So we started the Lemon Road Machine Project, with plans to connect children with new bikes and helmets in Rob’s home town of Grand Rapids. Last Christmas we gave new bikes, helmets, locks, and a pump to two brothers. It was one of the happiest moments of our holiday.
This year we organized a small ride to bike in honor of Rob and Hilary. He surely would have laughed at our distance (just 10 miles) and some of the equipment (my own tire was somehow on backwards). But he would have loved that so many were out biking; some wore helmets for the first time, a cousin bought a bike on the way to the ride. and many rode who had not ridden in years. It will most definitely be an annual event.
At the same time we set up an online fund drive, with an initial goal of $1000. As I write this post, after five weeks of campaigning, our donations have reached $4880. We’ve been beyond humbled not only with this dollar amount, which will help us with our goals, but even more so by the shear breadth of people who have donated. Friends from college and high school that I have not seen in ten years. Past colleagues. Current colleagues. Close family. Extended family. Very extended family. Neighbors. New friends. Old friends. Our best friends. People who had never met Rob, but love us. People who have never met us, but love him and Hil. A stranger that, as best I can tell, had never met any of us but donated in honor of her husband, who was hit and killed by a drunk driver this spring.
I cried when nearly every donation came in. The emotional response did not parallel the dollar amount. The $10 donation touched me just as much as any other. Because that person, and every person who donated, cared enough to do something about it. And for that, “thank you” will never feel like enough.
We’ve taken your dream, Rob. And with the help of so many, we plan to make you proud. I have no capacity to bring you back. But I can keep you here by working diligently for your dreams. Because your presence and passion will be so hard to match, if this project is able to touch even one tenth of the people you would have done on your own, it will be a success. This is the good I will hold onto.