I write from Copper Mountain, north of Leadville and west of Vail. Like a lot of Colorado and the Southeastern Colorado, Copper is in the midst of what seems to be an endless drought. Beetle-kill trees tell the tale. As did this past Saturday’s Summit County newspaper. The news was not “above the fold” but in the reader’s face.
In fine print, above “Let it Rain,” the paper reports that “Experts call for heavy moisture accumulation over the next three months.” We can hope. Saturday evening we had a short and furious micro-burst lasting maybe six minutes, but that was it.
We were in Copper for my husband’s 29th consecutive, Courage Classic – a fundraiser for Children’s Hospital Denver. At this point he is the eldest rider who has been riding since the founding. You would think that Mark would hang up his laurel wreath and call it quits, but I don’t think that will happen. I think he has every intention of dying with his boots on.
The Courage Classic is more than a cycling tour and the money raised by the 2,000 riders is not to be sneezed at. This year’s goal is $2,800,000 and to this point, they have met 95% of their target. Well Done!
Some years ago I remember reading and hearing and painfully lamenting when we heard that a whale had swum up the Thames River and was stranded. Non-stop TV coverage kept us up-to-date with the whale’s health status and attempts to rescue the animal. At the time, I was struck by how our hearts go out to animals at a pace that far outstrips our sympathy for mankind.
Humanitarian crises abound. Close your eyes and twirl the globe. Point and wherever your finger lands, you can find war, rape, starvation and/or a refugee crisis. And yet… unless we are intimately involved, we remain at a safe emotional distance. But give us story of a wounded animal, and we have an instantaneous emotional response. I often think that the animal-to-man connection is more pure than the man-to-man connection.
A good number of young adults and children who have been treated at Children’s Hospital participate in the tour. Some current and former patients stand by and cheer on the riders; others ride on their own or on a tandem or in a come-along behind a bike.
Annually a number of handicapped animals come for the tour. They come in baby carriages and on wheeled contraptions strapped to their torsos. Despite their injuries (bandaged and out of sight) adults and children cannot get close enough.
Watching humans pet and talk to these animals is heartbreaking. Watching, you cannot deny the honest connection. I’m left wondering about transference: if those who are so moved by the animal connection have greater compassion for those children who may live or die in treatment at Children’s.
If only our love of animals could bridge the Great Divide.