Long Way Home

No, we won’t miss the view while we’re on this climb.  Oh, the stories we’ll take to the other side.  – Neon Feather

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Our 2019 ride was done to honor the life and memory of my nephew, Cooper Potts.  He died in an ATV accident over Labor Day weekend in 2018.  As a fun, adventurous, and ultra-personable 16 year-old, Cooper was a role model for many, many people.

At Cooper’s memorial service at his church in Katy, Texas, I grabbed a green rubber bracelet with the #LiveLifeLikeCooper message printed on it in yellow.  In that moment, I had a conviction to honor Cooper, share his story, and provide a sense of hope to people who have lost loved ones. As I put the bracelet over my hand and around my wrist, I made a pledge to myself to not remove it until we returned to Katy at the conclusion of our eighth bike ride (and seventh bike ride across Texas).  Although it was only the middle of September, we had a team of interested students who had already met and begun planning a January 2019 bike ride.  

Choosing a song for our ride-recap music videos is always a big thing for us.  We sometimes find songs and secretly sit on them for months before rides in order to use them for our recap videos.  After Cooper died, the selection of a song took on an even bigger meaning.

It was early afternoon on a Saturday, two weeks after the memorial service and three weeks since the accident, that I was driving home from teaching a fencing class.  Air1 Radio was playing through my car stereo when some lyrics caught my attention.  “We won’t miss this view while we’re on this ride” and “living life like every moment counts” were the words coming through the radio.  That sounded exactly like us…and it sounded exactly like Cooper’s legacy and what we wanted to share with others and with Cooper’s friends on our ride.

Long Way Home by Neon Feather

I turned into my driveway and immediately turned on my phone and recorded the remainder of the song.  Afterwards, I ran inside and pulled up the song on YouTube.  The video and lyrics were PERFECT.  After a quick Google search, I found an email address for Centricity Music and sent them a message telling our story and how their song spoke comfort and hope into the trials that my family was going through.  I also told them about our bike ride and asked if it would be okay to use the song for our upcoming bike ride video.  They responded quickly–and were honored to be part of our story.

Over the next few months, I kept in touch with the people at Centricity Music and was later asked to record a video of our story that they could share at a company gathering.  It was good thing…a very good thing.

As we completed our ride, we met with youth and adult groups in our host churches along the route.  We shared Cooper’s story and how we connected with Centricity Music.  We used the lyrics from “Long Way Home” to share a message of hope and a charge to live life to the fullest.  Throughout the ride, with the lyrics of the song bouncing around in my head, I found myself pausing to take in the beauty of the countryside, to appreciate the times of trial and hardship on the road (with hills and wind), and to enjoy the company of my teammates and the people who hosted and cared for us along the route.

BRAT7 Recap Music Video

After dancing around in the Gulf of Mexico at Quintana Beach, we drove to Katy to meet with more than 50 of Cooper’s friends.  It had barely been four months since the accident and the wounds and grieving were still very deep.  Our time together was part of the healing process.  The whole experience was a tribute to a life well-lived and implanted in us an attitude and mission that I hope that we will carry with us throughout our days here on Earth.  I removed and left the #LiveLifeLikeCooper bracelet in Cooper’s old room on the morning before driving back to Abilene.  Until later…

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