Joel R. is a beloved member of the Route Safety Crew and can be described as compassionate, generous, patient, and respectful. A radiant being with supreme character, Joel’s “leadership and work on crew isn’t just a day of volunteering… it’s an attitude of service,” says his friend Barbara B. “He dares to soar by taking on any task asked of him… one of his greatest talents is showing that nothing is impossible.” He truly embodies the spirit of the Pink Bubble and what it means to be a 3-Dayer, bringing his positive attitude to all 33 events that he’s participated in throughout the past 11 years.
Joel was awarded the Crew Impact Award at the 2023 Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day and shared a few words with us as he prepared for the event.
What was your inspiration to participate in your first 3-Day?
I was introduced to the world of breast cancer back in 2011 when one of my very close friends was diagnosed as having stage 4. Back then, I had been looking for a way to tie my enjoyment of riding a motorcycle with serving others but hadn’t been looking at charities or big events. I just knew that I wanted to find a way to help others that didn’t involve just writing a donation check or volunteering at church. One Sunday, my friend approached me and was so excited to share the experience she and her husband had at a breast cancer event the previous weekend. She told me about these “guys on motorcycles, all decked out in pink that were having a lot of fun” and how they were really encouraging and helped her make it through the weekend. She was talking about the Route Safety Crew at the Chicago 3-Day. I was intrigued and, after deciding to give it a try, was lucky enough to join the Route Safety Crew the following year.
Unfortunately, my friend battled through a couple of remission/return cycles over the next few years and passed away in January of 2017. My wife and I had the privilege of being able to spend time with her and her family and help wherever we could. Often, that just meant being at their house during treatment cycles just in case she or her family needed anything. We spent a lot of time listening to her and her husband share their emotional and familial struggles. Your heart naturally goes out to someone diagnosed with cancer, but the toll on the rest of the family really showed me how much more broad-reaching the effects of breast cancer are.
What has brought you back to the 3-Day year after year?
It’s the camaraderie between Crew and the many smiling faces of participants. You can’t help but form lasting friendships with those you’ve worked hard alongside for so many hours. Who wouldn’t want to be around an event where the math just doesn’t add up? I’m there to encourage the walkers, but I go away feeling like I’m the one who received a blessing.
What is your favorite aspect of crewing the 3-Day?
Hugs and smiles! I also have to mention how much fun it is to play in traffic! The more challenging the intersection, the better. 😊
What is your best advice to anyone crewing the 3-Day?
I think it’s really important to take time to assess how you’re doing at regular intervals. The Crew is here to serve and we can do our best only when we’re not worn out or hangry. Take time throughout the day to pause for a minute and ask yourself, “If someone wiser than me came along, would they tell me I need a break?”
What’s a fun fact about you?
One of my favorite things to do is people-watch. I could sit in one spot for hours at a mall and not get bored. I’m also an introvert and basically don’t talk to my family for the few days leading up to and after the 3-Day since I have to prepare for three days of heavy social interaction. 😊
What are the most important lessons you’ve learned on the 3-Day?
Always take more water than I think I’ll need with me to an intersection. The 3-Day also continues to reaffirm that serving others brings a much longer lasting joy than just receiving from others.
“His generosity is beyond compare and I could go on for pages about how generous Joel is. He is giving from his heart, without any thought to receive anything in return. He gives of his time, his knowledge, his friendship, his caring, he gives from his own wallet, he goes out of his way to help those in need and those that are even just in want. He freely uses his own resources to help in any way possible. He literally will give the shirt off his back.” —Barbara B.