Be Like Ed

I am switching gears and using my legs to pedal instead of run for a good cause in memory of my friend Ed Cavanaugh.  Ed suffered from Type 1 Diabetes and passed away last August in the El Dorado Forest. I am riding this weekend at the 2016 Tour De Cure and raising money for the American Diabetes Association. Our East Coast team has raised over 12k and I have been a slacker waiting until 3 days before the ride asking for some money. I don’t like asking for money but I will tell you why this is an important cause and very dear to my heart.

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This guy was one of the most incredible bad ass human beings everrrrrrr.  One of the many things Ed loved about the outdoors was riding dirt. He was an avid outdoorsman & motorbike rider, he loved anything on two wheels. Ed left on a motorbike trip last July 17th and that was to be his last. It is now assumed that Ed became hypoglycemic while out riding his dirt bike. He was alone and if an episode occurred it might have been difficult for him to recognize. Ed was always fully prepared and didn’t let diabetes stop him from living. But Ed was alone and he couldn’t have been prepared for an episode in which he depended on someone else for life’s most basic functions. An episode like this could occur at any moment and in any place. So when Ed didn’t return home a massive search party began out in the forest. A Facebook group was formed – Lov (Ed) that currently has over 1,700 members. It was incredible to watch how many lives Ed had touched and now these people stepping up to help in any way possible. I like most people, was attached to my phone constantly checking the Lov(Ed) group for updates. The search party grew to an elaborate production with base camp set up at Ed’s cabin in the forest. Tons of volunteers started pouring into basecamp trying to help, whether it was hiking 12 hours a day in the blazing hot sun, or help by bringing supplies, working with maps & logistics, the local police, drones, military, I mean you name it and it was involved in the search. It was heart wrenching as time went on and still no Ed. I felt helpless, what could I do to help, this was the common thread amongst his friends. The search party had asked for all the help they could get, hikers, bikers, runners, dogs, anything that could bushwhack thru the dense forest. I wanted to help sooooo bad. A friend had procured free flights from Jet Blue and she offered me a flight, I knew if there was anything I could do was use my running skills to run/walk/hike all over that damn forest if I had too. But I was working a job that involved me being chained to my computer. I had a commitment to this job so I did the next best thing I was good at —- talking to the media. I sat at my computer day & night reaching out to news organizations, websites, etc spreading the word hoping to get as much help as possible. I reached out to local run clubs in the SF area asking if any runners could head up to the forest and hike for the day. I reached out to my good friend Maggie at Nathan Sports and asked if they could donate a few water bottle and lights, and they delivered!!! It was a mind boggling time in which every person involved didn’t get much sleep — we were going to find Ed. After 2 weeks, a few days before his 45th birthday Ed’s body was recovered from the forest he loved so much.

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Ed was a long time educator teaching at Downtown Continuation High School in San Francisco, CA.  Downtown High gives students a second chance to succeed who otherwise didn’t in the school system, youth who have dropped out of school and who previously might not have had any motivation. This is where Ed comes in — he created and founded The Get Out And Learn Program, otherwise known as GOAL. The GOAL program uses experiential and adventure-based learning to educate and engage under-served San Francisco youth who are at risk of dropping out of school and encourages students to graduate from high school. Ed created and understood there are different ways to learn besides sitting in the traditional classroom. He taught them math by showing them how to build a 15 foot boat AND making sure it floated. He taught them survival skills by taking them on 10 day backpacking trips in the Sierra’s, he taught them trust but taking them to ropes course. Ed gave these students the skills to succeed in life, the confidence that they are worth something and motivation to be well rounded individuals. It was these same students who came out to search for their beloved teacher when he was missing. In fact, it was one of his first students he ever taught who was with the search group that located Ed’s body in the forest. Ed didn’t take shit from his students but had all their respect. He collected cell phones before they entered the class. Ed was fair & tough, most of all he truly cared and believed in each student. After Ed passed away all his students were posting stories and memories to the Lov(ED) page and it brought tears to my eyes, it still does. The impact he had on these kids lives, when they had nobody around who cared, no adult figure or no father figure, they always knew they could count on Ed. The guy with the biggest smile, tightest hugs and biggest claps had the biggest heart of all.

Ed is missed so much by so many people. It never gets any easier when a friend leaves us too soon but tears do eventually turn into smiles. I still think about the last exchange I had with Ed last summer. We were talking about the NBA and my insane dedication to my team the San Antonio Spurs.  I was hoping to see him and always got excited knowing he was coming to town. We would plan swim dates, go for bike rides, sometimes do nothing and just hang out. Those last few months before he passed Ed had reached out a bunch to me. Usually with a text or gChat asking to talk and I can’t believe how often I was ‘too busy’ or about to run out the door, which he always replied “Evy you always running.” Of course how do we know that would be the last time we speak to someone, we don’t.

Ed lived a lot in his short life and I hope you feel inclined to donate a few bucks. If not, no worries, Be Like Ed, live life, care for people, stop to listen and call that friend back who has been reaching out. Please donate on my personal page here: Tour De Cure 

Thank you.

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About evygonzales

I run. play. travel. work. eat. laugh. I love tacos, chocolate milk and Hammer Nutrition.
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