Wednesday, April 17, 2013

West Bend wheelchair racer safe after Boston

Trey Roy inspires me.

                                                         Photo courtesy Illinois Wheelchair Athletics

WEST BEND - The mother of 2012 West Bend East High School graduate Trey Roy is still trying to wrap her head around reality in the aftermath of Monday’s tragedy in Boston.

Chris Roy’s son Trey was one of the wheelchair racers at the Boston Marathon.

“He called me as soon as he got home, 3:30 a.m. Tuesday, to his dorm at the University of Illinois,” said
Chris Roy. With a long pause, a deep breath and a sigh she continued. “It’s the first time I actually got to talk to him.”

Trey Roy, 19, is a freshman and the youngest member of the Illini Wheelchair Athletics Program. He, along with 14 of his teammates, were in Boston.

In a marathon the wheelchair division typically starts the 26.2-mile race well before the runners. Trey Roy finished in a time of 2 hours, 15 minutes and
14 seconds. He was off the course by 11:30 a.m. and at the Sheraton Hotel restaurant, two blocks from the finish line, eating lunch when he first heard the news.

“I didn’t feel any of the percussion but the restaurant manager came on the P.A. and said there was criminal activity on the street and I saw countless ambulance and fire trucks racing past,” he said.

                                          Trey with H.S. coach Rick Smith in 2010

“As soon as people started texting I knew it was a big deal and so I immediately started texting my family to tell them I was OK.”

Back in Wisconsin, Chris Roy watched the race via a broadcast on the Internet; she had taken her personal computer to work.

“Not much of the wheelchair race was shown,” she said. “They did have live updates so I could at least keep track of where he was and how he was doing,” she said.

By 10:30 a.m., Chris Roy turned off her computer. “I had blown two hours of work time and I had to help at the front desk from 2:30-3:30 p.m.”

Chris Roy said she didn’t know about the explosions until she returned to her office later that afternoon and saw several voicemails from her husband.

“First thing he tells me is that Trey’s OK and then he said there had been explosions and I kind of lost it,” she said.

“It was almost like I didn’t hear the part that he was OK, because even if he’s OK, it’s complete chaos and you don’t know if there’s more bombs and he’s still there in the city; it’s just very frightening.”

Chris Roy immediately began working her cellphone. “The service was so bad, we just kept texting. He was pretty worked up and scared too, although he wouldn’t admit that to me,” she said.

Although the family was back home, Trey Roy was with his coach Adam Bleakney.

“I was just sending the team an email thanking them for their cooperation, being patient and responsive,” Bleakney said Tuesday afternoon.

After receiving word of the tragedy, the team pulled together in the lobby of the hotel and Bleakney told them not to move. “I wanted to be ready to go immediately when we got a sense we’d be able to catch a shuttle and get to the airport,” he said.

A tweet from @IlliniWCA was posted within an hour of the incident: “Awaiting a final confirmation, but it appears that all of the members of the elite wheelchair division are accounted for following the 2013 Boston Marathon. Our thoughts and prayers to all involved.”

The team’s departure flight out of Logan International Airport to Chicago O’Hare wasn’t until 9:30 p.m. Monday. Bleakney credited his support staff for helping with logistics and gear, considering every athlete travels with their personal wheelchair and a racing wheelchair.

Trey Roy was still in his dorm room around noon, feeling “totally drained both physically and emotionally.”

“I’m not too sore, but that was a tough course and I have no energy,” Trey Roy said.

Questioned about the impact of the bombing, Trey Roy said, “I really can’t watch it (on television) because it’s scary-strange for me.

“My thoughts and prayers go out to all the people affected by the bombing; I hope Boston recovers quickly.”

At home in the town of Jackson, Chris Roy took off a half day from work — still numb with the news.

“I take it the worst,” said Chris Roy. “I’m the one that’s been sitting in the hospital with him through all of his surgeries and we have a pretty tight bond. I just take these things worse than everybody else.”

Asked whether the family had plans to go to Champaign, Ill., Chris Roy said no, but, “I expect we will be making some sort of trip this weekend. Mom needs a hug.”

West Benders will remember Trey Roy at 16 as a sophomore taking home three first-place medals in 2010 during the WIAA State Track and Field Tournament in La Crosse. The West Bend Common Council and Mayor Kris Deiss issued a resolution recognizing Trey Roy for his accomplishments that season.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Tour jersey arrives!

                                                     Photo by John Ehlke-West Bend Daily News

Preparations for this summer’s bicycle tour are rolling along as I will spend three weeks in July pedaling around small gold-mining towns in Alaska and filing stories about my adventures. This tour is slightly different as I’m biking to raise money and awareness for Alzheimer’s programs at Cedar Community.

So far I’ve managed to raise $17,000 in corporate pledges and sponsor logos will be featured on a tour jersey that finally arrived last Friday. It was a real team effort working with Kelly Dahlberg and Helyn Skurzewski from Husar’s Corporate Gifts and Promotions. Husar’s sponsored the printing of the jerseys.

Michael Albiero with Versant Solutions designed the “Ride 2 Remember” logo and the primary sponsors include Time Investment Co., Kilian Management, the U.S. Concealed Carry Association, American Metal & Paper Recycling Inc., Wiedmeyer Express, Time Investment Co. and CG Schmidt.

My father has Alzheimer’s. He inspired my love of bicycling and I feel this effort is the least I can do to pay him back.

At 89 my dad can tell you the day he was born, the names of his seven children and he can still recite Mass in Latin. However, he doesn’t know his age because he doesn’t know what year it is. To put it in perspective, he thinks Bill Clinton is president.

Classified as a “happy Alzheimer’s,” my father is easy going, a dedicated walker and avid napper. He doesn’t build or fix things anymore, but we often take road trips to The Shed, a handyman’s consignment store in Slinger, to see if he can identify tools like a wood planer, big tractor wrenches or a cutter head for a doweling machine.

I see the positive impact music and exercise have on his life. This past weekend we went to the Schauer Center in Hartford and saw “Tap: The Show.” While he never initiates conversation, my dad turned to me after the performance and said, “Now that was an ‘A’ No. 1 show.”

A dancer in his youth, my dad frequented the Eagles Club on Wisconsin Avenue in Milwaukee. My mother said he knew how to waltz and polka and they were always in a class like country line dancing or square dancing.

In a memory book we made him for Christmas my sisters wrote about how “One year in high school I invited Dad to the Father/Daughter Dance — I was proud that my Dad was such a good dancer.”

For the next few months I’ll be training for Alaska and rallying support for Alzheimer’s. I’m also looking for a little help, as I’d like to bike each day in memory of a person affected by Alzheimer’s. Tour pledge information and details are on my website at Donations can be made to Cedar Community Foundation 113 Cedar Ridge Drive, West
Bend, WI 53095. For a tax write-off, include the Federal Tax ID No: 39-1249432.