Bike Ride Benefits Ronald McDonald House
COLUMBIA - A cool, crisp fall wind slapped the faces of 100 bikers Saturday morning in the 1st Annual Show Me 100 Bike Ride. All proceeds benefit the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Mid-Missouri.
The Ronald McDonald House is a home away from home for families of children getting treatment at health-care facilities.
Burnt orange leaves whipped in the breeze on the first day of October, and fell gently across the leg of the course on North Creasy Springs Road.
Organizers broke the charity event into four rides of varying distances, each starting and crossing the finish line at Parkade Center in Columbia. The first group embarked on their 100-mile journey at 8:00 a.m., followed by a 62-mile ride, 31-mile ride, and finally, 3-mile family fun ride.
All participants (other than family fun riders) were encouraged to raise $200 for the Ronald McDonald House's day-to-day operations.
But for Keith Schawo, it's about far more that day-to-day operations. It's about stability, in a time of complete uncertainty. Schawo's 5-year-old son, Luke, was born with three heart anomalies. Luke has undergone three open heart surgeries, and at least four other heart-related procedures.
"It (Ronald McDonald House) gave us some comfort, a place to regroup, and it took one element of stress away from us. It was a period of time in our lives where we didn't... we had no idea whether our son was going to live. And that alone, being a first time parent, or any parent I guess, is a huge stress," Schawo continued, "We didn't know where we were gonna stay. And it doesn't sound like it's that big of a deal, but to not know, to be gone from your jobs, to not have your home, it's, it's really an answer to a prayer for us and just meant the world to us."
Schawo said the Ronal McDonald House answered his family's prayers. Now, he's returning the favor. Not only is Schawo a board member, but in January Schawo will step into the role of Mid-Missouri's Ronald McDonald Board President.
Schawo said his many connections to the charity group is what inspired his attendance at the Show Me 100 Bike Race. But he said really, it's the people with no connection, that truly deserve recognition.
"I feel more passionate because we were actually guests at the house. But to see a lot of these people that come out, and that care that much, and to give of their time and of their money, so that people like us can have a place to stay, I think that, that means more because they don't have a reason to be here other than the fact that they care," Schawo said.
Schawo and his family have faced a long road to get to where they are now. But standing at the bike race with his wife, son Luke, and daughter Cate, Schawo said he feels incredibly lucky, and never once asked, "Why did this happen to us?"
Above all else, he said he's grateful.
"The truth is, we shared the house with you know, a lot of people that, that weren't able to take their kids home, that weren't able to leave the room that Luke shared with them," Schawo said.
"I work with a number of people who are involved with the Ronald McDonald House, who have lost children, who have lost their familes... I mean I understand that what we faced was very difficult for us, but there are people who face even greater challenges. We're fortunate in that we have the ability to look at our son today, and some people don't have the ability to look at their daughters and sons. But that doesn't take away from the impact that the Ronald McDonald House had - in their lives or in ours," Schawo said.
To learn how you can help the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Mid-Missouri, click here.