This year’s 5th annual Vista Tour de Shore was groundbreaking on many levels. There were more than 270 riders participating and total funds raised exceeded $100,000! However, one of the most remarkable things that happened at the Tour de Shore this year was the 60-mile personal journey undertaken by Vista member David Willett and his brother Francis Willett.
David has participated in the Tour de Shore from the beginning, cycling the 25 and 40-mile routes in previous years. Although he had always wanted to be there to support David, his brother Francis had never gotten the chance to participate, due to his obligations caring for his parents. This year though, was much different. After recently losing both of his parents, David decided to ride the 60-mile route in tribute to them. His brother, Francis, chose to support him by riding behind him for the entire 60 miles. Francis was extremely proud of David for setting this goal and encouraged him to finish the course “no matter how long it takes.” Francis also reminded David that many people had contributed to sponsoring his fundraising efforts, so he was riding not just for himself, but for his sponsors and for his parents. A special moment for David and Francis occurred at the halfway point of the ride, when the brothers passed Mica Hill Cemetery in Durham where their parents are now at rest. As David passed this spot, Francis reminded him of how proud his family was of him. Francis watched as David saluted his parents with a “thumbs up” as they pressed on to finish the course. The second half of the course was especially difficult because of the hills, but as David hit every turn he knew he was getting closer to reaching his goal and was able to persevere. A bit of advice from David: “Don’t let the hills intimidate you, YOU intimidate the hills.”
In the last mile, David told his brother, “Go ahead Franco, see you at the finish, I GOT THIS!” With tears running down his face, Francis watched the priceless smile on David’s face as he crossed the finish line. As David received a big hug from Vista’s Executive Director, Helen Bosch, Francis noted feeling that his parents were there at that moment, to celebrate David and his wonderful accomplishment.
David has been cycling for about 30 years and cycles an average of 30 miles a day, to and from his job in Madison. David loves cycling because of the opportunity it provides to “see nature at its best.” His favorite thing about the Tour de Shore is the spirit of camaraderie and the unspoken rule of “leaving no one behind.” The brothers both plan on participating in the Tour de Shore for years to come, but will never forget this year’s remarkable 60-mile journey.
Based in Madison and Westbrook, CT, Vista Vocational & Life Skills Center is a 501©3 nonprofit organization. Vista’s mission is to provide services and resources on an individualized basis to assist adults with disabilities to live independent and successful lives.
For more information regarding Vista, please visit www.vistavocational.org