Grateful Eight – Day 5

Fayette County day! 54 miles in a cyclist paradise, hundreds of loving kids and the biggest donation ever for Le Bonheur from Fayette County Schools. All eight schools visited each collected over a $1000 for a total of $14,512. Our grand total is just over $247 thousand. We are getting within striking distance of our goal of $400k! If you are thinking about a donation please do. If you have already made a gift, everyone at Le Bonheur, WREG, the Go Jim Go Team and these kids thanks you.

We are wrapping up this show tomorrow with our second day in Memphis followed by the big finale and telethon on WREG Channel 3, live from Le Bonheur. The telethon begins at 6:30pm.

Give us a honk and a wave if you see us on the road!

Go to gojimgo3.org or text Go Jim Go to 71760

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This Guy…Day 4

Today took us across the river for the hour drive to Forrest City, AR and all the communities beyond, Wynne, Colt, that have always been so generous to Jim’s mission and of course this the realm of the undeniable Steve Roberts the local farmer who has made supporting Go Jim Go one of the missions of his life. As you can plainly see, this guy delivered.

Pure bliss on a two wheeler today as we rolled out of the parking lot of the Village Creek State Park at just before 8am. We quickly stopped at another longtime supporter of Jim and Le Bonheur, The Country Store on Hwy 284. Mrs. Phyllis presented Jim with a check that came from spare change donations from their customers. An amazing surprise amount of over $1,500. Just a little bit from everybody makes a big impact.

From there we headed to our first of only two scheduled schools stops today, about a 20 mile ride with one nice climb as we made our way up to up to Cross County Elementary and High School.

The Thunderbirds did an amazing job as a first time school and shocked us all with a combined donation of just over $3,000. Thank you Thunderbirds!

We will see you next year, FYI – the principle as agreed to ride with us. We’ll hold him to it!

Back out on the road to a day that weather wise was turning a bit less hospitable. We started our ride of another 18-20ish miles due west to Wynne, AR. The entire way we were being blasted by strong cross and headwinds. Riding through the expansive farmland there is just nowhere to hide and had to push through. The team did great working to find that perfect spot and angle in the draft from the rider in front that provided any protection from the wind.

We made it to Wynne just after 11am and we were ready for a break. A nice lunch at Big Daddy Burgers compliments of Tony Bull Chevrolet. This was Mr. Bull’s third year of picking up our lunch tab from a rather large bunch of famished bikers. He has a great story about how Le Bonheur saved his grandson’s life. Thanks for lunch Mr. Bull!

Freshly burger fueled, on to meet the Yellow jackets at Wynne Intermediate School. As they have been in the past the Yellow jackets were so excited to see us and were bringing the noise. We had a great visit with them and they sent us on our way with another $1,730.

From there back into the headwinds for a fight to get to Colt, AR. From Colt we made the turn back east and the last leg of the loop back to Village Creek Park. The clouds had been steadily rolling in since lunch and by this time it was a solid low wavey grey ceiling  overhead. Wayne had chosen a new road for us to travel, very remote and sheltered. At times the passage of forest was merely a tunnel through the old growth interested in reclaiming the territory temporarily lost by the presence of the road. Given the season and the setting it was more a scene set for the appearance of the nemesis of Ichabod Crane than the jarring contrast of bike riders in candy store colored tight outfits.

Maybe just a little early for headless horsemen and flaming pumpkins as we made it back to our staging spot and despite the brooding weather it was a magnificent ride. We had clocked 65 and half miles in roughly seven hours of our Arkansas tour.

Big, big Le Bonheur thanks for the hospitality and generosity of our Mid-South neighbors. Especially to Steve Roberts who spends his whole year long after we are gone to continue to seek support for one our nation’s best pediatric hospitals and children’s healthcare that every family is so fortunate to have access to. Please consider offering your support. For those who made a contribution, we most sincerely thank you.

Three down and three to go. We are back in the far eastern communities of the Lafayette County starting in Rossville. Coffee pot is set. Nite, nite.

Crushing It – Day 3

Got this feeling in my body, come on – Justin Timberlake

Only not the type of feeling JT is singing about. In my case, it’s 4:30 am and the alarm just went off and “come on” is it really time to get up already? What my body is feeling are the results of two back to back days totaling sixteen-ish hours in the saddle. Gonna be a minute JT. Plus two Advils and two pitchers of truck driver grade coffee to get me to the dance floor. But, hang on playa, I’m comin’!

Good day friends! What a good day it was south of the border as day three brings us to our Desoto county leg of this year’s Go Jim Go Le Bonheur love fest. Teaser alert…The biggest day so far!

The team rolled out of the Snowden Grove Park just around eight. Perfect sized pack of 12 riders this morning which included two riders from our long-time Desoto County cycling supporters, The Hernando Bicycle Club. Ron McCarter and Michael Klappholz. Two absolute class riders who know how to ride in a peleton, have the fitness to hold the pace, have the passion for the cause to spend the day with us supporting Jim and making a positive impression on the kids.

Also, riding was returning guest Karen Lamport from Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare corporate HR. She is another all class, power house endurance rider who knows how to handle herself in a pack and she was wearing Rapha.

A base layer and arm warmers made cutting through the September 29th air on a bike at 19mph most comfortable. In cycling speak, a base layer is a fancy name for an undershirt made of technical fiber worn under the jersey for warmth and moisture management. Arm warmers are awesome. A long tube of technical fiber that goes from your wrist to your upper arm. It keeps the morning chill off that increases with speed on the bike and can easily be pushed down to the wrist and pulled back up to regulate temps as needed.

Two laser lines of riders, six by six as the early sun exploded the color off of our brightly decorated team uniforms headed for one of our usual biggest schools stops each year, Lewisberg Elementary and Primary School.

On approach to Lewisberg

As has become tradition, the incredible teams of administrators, teachers, parents and students at Lewisberg once again delivered with a check which what has also become tradition quite literally put Jim on the ground. What a way to start our day with a check for $19,763! Outstanding job Lewisberg! Jim wet his chamois in more ways than one.

On from there our ride continued to Horn Lake Intermediate, then to on to Shadow Oaks Elementary. Followed by our lunch stop at Southaven RV. We truly appreciate Southaven RV for providing our home on the road. Having the RV is such a convenience. Not a ride goes by that we don’t recall the stories of the one year that we did the six-day event without one. In addition to the donation of the RV, they gave a check for $5000 as well!

After lunch, we continued the rolling party to Hope Sullivan Elementary, Greenbrook Elementary, Whitehaven Elementary. Such a special experience for all involved at each school stop. Though we have the routine down. Each stop is unique in terms of the school itself and the energy of the kids, the signs, how they react to what Jim says which is always a little bit different. This year Jim’s rap is about Le Bonheur being a “fortress of hope” and superheroes. That supporting Le Bonheur is a heroic thing to do. He has been introducing his riding team as his superheroes for helping him on his ride. It’s so fun and the children always cheer no matter how we ham it up nor how silly we may look to them in our cycling suits and clickity-clackity cycling “tap” shoes.

Next stop was Brown Missionary Baptist Church. Always a mega-supporter of Go Jim Go and from their incredible organization and congregation, we received a contribution of $10,000! Wow. Job 22:28

Last school stop was with the little, itty bittys at Faith Pre-School Academy and then across the street to finish up with a live shot at Kroger and chance to hear more about another one of our sponsors Htwo water. Good stuff. Check them out.

It was another Go Jim Go cookie cutter marvelous day. Terrific riding, super energetic and super generous support. It was our biggest total day yet coming in at over $46,000! That brings our grand total to just over $160,000. The ride itself was right at 60 total miles, it began at just before 8 am and concluded after 5 pm. On behalf of Jim and all the riders, thank you Desoto County on another year of outstanding support.

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Please support Le Bonheur. It’s easy to take Le Bonheur for granted when all is well, but if you wake up in the middle of the night with a sick child with a 104-degree fever, there is only one place in town to go.

Looking very much forward to the weekend break, but also to Monday. To quote Mr. Timberlake again, “I got this feeling in my bones” that what Mr. Steve Roberts and East Arkansas has in store for us will make us “electric, wavy” when we see what’s written on that bank envelope of his.

Thanks for reading. Go Jim Go!

P.S. So Wayne and I have this friendly little competition going on every year where we sprint each other to be the first to cross the line at any road sign indicating a corp limit like a town, city or county. It’s a tradition for most all cyclists who participate in group rides. So today, Wayne and I were going wheel to wheel in a sprint for the line going into Memphis out of Horn Lake. I was letting Wayne think he had a chance when all of a sudden I heard and felt a noise and clunking on my frame. Then my legs were suddenly doused with a spray of water as my whole water bottle cage had become detached from my bike and fallen away and exploded when it hit the ground. Well cuss! I was distracted long enough for Dr. Strange (Jim’s superhero name for Wayne) to get the edge and take the victory. Congrats kind Doctor, do enjoy the title while it lasts albeit as brief as it will be.

A fitting end to unreliable, unsafe equipment

P.S.S. Happy Birthday Mom!

Any amount of miles for those smiles – Day 2


This is Kennadie and Isabella. They are first graders at Austin Peay Elementary. They made a sign for Jim. They were so proud to show it today in celebration of our visit. People, I just can’t tell you how sweet, precious and adorable these two were when I introduced myself to them and they asked if I liked their sign. Well, of course, I liked their sign. It was magnificent. This is just one example of the hundreds and hundreds of special signs and banners made by all the kids with love and excitement for the annual visit of Jim and the support of Le Bonheur. I wish we could pay special attention to each and every one of the heartfelt works of art that are on display at every stop.

So every single Mid-Southerner who walked outside this morning felt that moment of blessed joy, relief, and comfort by the true Fall air that enveloped them. Indeed we did as the lycra clad Le Bonheur bikers loaded up and headed to the Tipton County area for the tour of the community just north.

No tyres on the turf!

We rolled out of the Edmond Orgil Golf Course just before 8am. The weather was a source of riding joy as we traveled to Drummonds Elementary. We had a significant mechanical delay on our first leg of the trip which caused us to fall way behind schedule. On the rare occasion that this happens we have no choice but to cozy up and make up the time in the RV.  A tough call, yet can’t be helped when you have kids waiting and more appointments to keep. We made it to Drummonds not too terribly late, but I really don’t think the kids were too concerned about it. On to the rest of our scheduled stops.


Next was Munford High who put us over the current total of $100,000 mark! They always come through for us. Then to Munford Elementary, Brighton Elementary and last morning stop at the Teen Learning Center.


A great lunch on the beautiful Covington Square where the Covington Police had all of our multiple vehicle parking arrangements set up and waiting for us. Thanks, Covington Blue!


After lunch, a police escort to Tipton Christian Academy and then finally to Kennadie and Isabella’s school.


A cyclist paradise of rural back road riding all afternoon as we spun our way back to Millington. Aside from the mechanical delay that cost us some sweet morning mileage, it was another perfect Go Jim Go rider day.

64 miles ridden and $18,000 donated. That brings our total to just under 112,000. FWIW, we have never exceeded 100k before Friday. Thank you, Tipton County for an awesome day and thank you Kennadie and Isabella for warming my heart. That was quite a smile you brought to my face.

Hey Desoto! Tomorrow! Whatcha got!

Le Bonheur’s own Jennifer Turner

Chad Terry, Co-Owner Bike World and Bikes Plus

Rebekah Adkins!

Inspector Gadget cranking out the miles.

Jim is a Go – Day 1 – 2017

So shines a good deed in a weary world – Willy Wonka

Good Wednesday Greetings Dear reader, welcome back to the old Blake Blog. Here be your inside resource to the very special and very unique fundraising event involving cycles that is Go Jim Go. It’s 2017 ya know and this is Jim’s twelfth year, my 9th.

Today we kicked off our official six day ride after four pre-rides or Tour days. As stated before, we have so many schools participating (thank you David Henson) we have to go to specific areas ahead of time because it is impossible to get to all the schools in the regular six days of the event. We started back on September 14th with a trip across the Harahan Bridge in our first tour of West Memphis. Then to Oxford, Water Valley and Batesville on the 15th. We rounded Collierville on the 21st and the Tour of Bartlett last Friday. Huge thanks, appreciation and fist bumps to all those cities, communities and schools as we collected over $80,000! That put us at more money collected in the entire week of earlier Go Jim Go years. Off to a great start.

Our ride kicked off with a very rowdy send off from the back yard of WREG down on the river bluffs. Marching bands, cheerleaders, VIPs and the afore mentioned 650 Gibson Doughnuts.

Everyone got safely away. Not an entirely non-challenging thing to do given all the camera cables, riding in grass and in such close proximity to cheerleading acrobats and tuba players. Not to mention Calamity Jim. As a reminder Jim had significant knee injury last year prior to the ride. He tried to make a go of it, but didn’t make it 100 yards out of the WREG parking lot before having to end his ride. I am so happy to report that after surgery and rehab over the past year he is now back on the bike and rolling strong. It is truly great to have him back in the pack.

Onto the mean streets of Memphis. Today we had a pack of a dozen including new riders Davonna Ledet, Le Bonheur Nurse Practitioner and Director of the Neurology Department, Dr. James Wheless, who is not only a world renowned neurosurgeon at Le Bonhuer, but also happens to be a very passionate Go Jim Go rider. Also, new team member and local triathlete Rebekah Askins. The rest of the crew was the returning core team of Wayne Lichliter, Steve Kuhar, Mike Rawlings, Donna Brown, Ray Hanshew, Bill Fredrick, Liz Callicut, Jim and a blogger dude.

We hit seven schools today, starting with Cherokee Elementary, American Way Middle, Evans Elementary, UM Campus School, Hutchison Girls School, Sea Isle Elementary and our final stop at Kate Bond Elementary, total collected today was over $14k bringing our total to $94,644!

Only 47 miles traveled in 7.5 hours.

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We were also able to stop by to show some love to the nurses and Docs at Le Bonheur’s Outpatient Clinic East on Humphreys Blvd.

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It’s always tough riding a brutally urban route like today. So much traffic, road hazards, stops and turns. The heat coming off the pavement in the city had to be pushing 100+ so it started to wear on us, but the team had a smooth and safe ride. The new kits are great, bright and colorful. Although, with all due respect to the designer, the crack up comment of the day was “Looks like a Care Bear got sick on your back.” Sorry designer person we do appreciate you.

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Thank you so much students, teachers and administrators for such a great job today. We appreciate the hospitality and generosity so very much. And the energy you bring is motivation beyond description. Today as we came into view of a small stadium full of elementary kids at Kate Bond. The squeals of delight and excitement hit the tired and sun baked riders like a tsunami of love. What a good deed indeed is each and every dollar donated for the mission of Le Bonheur.

See you in Tipton County tomorrow bright and early.

Heartfelt condolences to our Go Jim Go Director / Coordinator / DJ / Pace Car Driver, Antoinette Katoe, she lost her father unexpectedly on Tuesday, yet she has not missed and beat in running operation today. We love you Ant and appreciate all you do.

650 Doughnuts

Go Jim Go 2017 is about to start! Carbs and sugar? Check.  Thank you Gibsons Doughnuts and Sara Burnett of Le Bonheur (her car smelled SO nice!) We’ll see you on the road folks and I’ll keep you updated on all the”good stuff”!

Half Way Day

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And a good day to you dear reader, thanks for stopping by for another installment of my recaps as we hit the weekend break of our eleventh year. On our way to a total of over 4,500 miles and 2 million dollars. Wow, Go Jim Go just keeps on Going. (BTW, that’s about $450 bucks per mile)

Today we returned our never fail gold mine of Desoto County. Pay dirt it was indeed!

This morning was a bit of a sleep in day as Wayne and I met at 6:30 in Germantown opposed to the pre-dawn departures required for the last three days. Yes indeed there exists a 4:45am as I have seen it with mine own blood shot eyes.

We met the rest of the GJG road party crew at the Olive Branch YMCA for a scheduled 7:50 roll out. There was second sunrise and the angels sang as I unloaded my gleaming, polished road machine out of Wayne’s Yukon beast.

If you count the gimp with a limp, riding like a pimp, we had a baker’s dozen of a team today. Wayne Brain, Captain Kuhar, Downtown Donna Brown, Fredrick of Hollywood, Bikey Mikey (first timer Mike Rawlings), Lizard (first timer Liz Callicott) and myself along with several of our North Mississippi road riding buddies from the Hernando Bicycle Club joining us as they do every year; Michael Klappholz, Ron McCarter and the one and only Bo Mcaninch. Also, riding with us, returning alums Mark Underwood and keeping an eye on all the concerning issues from a corporate Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare HR perspective, Karen Lamport.

Being the bike snob that I am, I could not have picked a better group to represent the cause today. It was a perfect number of riders to make an effective presence on the road and with the kids, but not too many to manage riding on a complicated, heavily trafficked route. Everybody had great fitness and was able to hold tight double pace lines throughout the day (Cycling Definition: Double Pace Line – A group of riders riding in two distinct lines side by side. Provides safety, organization and maximizes most effective use of drafting). Plus, all the riders are passionate about the cause, great people and fun to be around.

The morning conditions were magnificent. We cherished every moment of the sub 90 temps because we knew what was in store for later.

Well, you might as well start things off with a BOOM! That is exactly what Lewisberg Primary/Elementary School did, first check of the day was $16,000. BOOM! Very close to the biggest check ever from a school. Lee Academy in Forest City still holds that record by a few hundred, but still best check ever from our Desoto County tours and the biggest check so far this year. A real stunner and we were all completely blown away by the generosity of the families and kids of these schools. As well as, the hard work of the teachers and administrators for making it happen. Awesome, awesome, awesome job! Thank you, thank you, thank you.


Not to take anything away from any of the other schools. We had an incredible day as we traveled on to collect big fat checks from Hornlake Elementary, Shadow Oaks Elementary, Whitehaven Elementary, Whitehaven High school, Southhaven Elementary, Greenbrook Elementary and $4k from the little ones at Faith Preschool. Don’t tell my girls, but I am obviously way outta whack from the weekly allowance norm.

Also, making big additions to the total were our first time sponsor The Memphis Riverkings and Southhaven RV. Special thanks to the River Thing for joining us at some of our school stops.

Everything proceeded like clockwork today with only one minor moment of drama. Well, two really, if you count Bill’s bee sting. Okay, make it three because the AC in the RV went out. Just as we were about to stop for lunch, I broke a spoke in my front wheel. No, I was not sprinting for the Southhaven City Limit sign! I was just in a hurry to get to the food. That’s when the drama really began to unfold. A broken spoke is usually no big deal when you have our sponsor BikesPlus following every mile in their support vehicle. However, I was a running a deeper dish wheelset (Cycling Definition: Deep Dish – a wider carbon fiber bicycle tire rim ranging anywhere from 30-80 millimeters. The wider rim provides improved aerodynamics) and Karen did not have the extender tool needed to extend down into the wider rim to remove the hardware. At that point, my ride for the day was over. Since we did not have the RV with us at that time due to repairs that were underway (see a fore mentioned drama moment #3), there was going to be a real issue of where the heck to put me and all of my road smells. The pace car was full along with the BikesPlus vehicle. It was possible that I may end up discarded and waiting for pick up like an empty sack of Sonic.

Well, never has the phrase “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” been more true than at 12:10pm with a disabled bike. Behold the savior from Southhaven. To be specific, Josh Jacobs, the manager of The Peddler Bike Shop in Southhaven, MS. Josh and I go way back. He and I have been homies for over a decade. Josh and I were teammates on the old Backyard Burger and Memphis Velo squads, we used to race together and he even helped me install the tile in my kitchen. In a Hail Mary, I called Josh at work and he answered. Once aware of the predicament, without hesitation he was on his way with the front wheel from his own bike. It took him about 25 minutes to get there, but get there he did and with literally 5 minutes to spare before the required departure to be on time to meet the next group of adoring kids, Josh had me rolling again. Unbelievable! Huge thank you to Josh and the The Peddler Bike Shop.

With Josh, the kids and all the contributions we saw the very best in people today, but unfortunately we also got a little taste or I should say nose full of the worst. Some people, man. I do have to call out the guy in Southhaven in the hopped up white diesel pick up truck. Check this out. As we were traveling down Goodman Road returning to the Y, dude pulled alongside the peloton of riders, then guns the accelerator engulfing the riders with a giant cloud of black exhaust and continues down the entire length of the group. That was mean, bro and I know you meant to do it. I’ll pray for your deviant soul, but I will also wish you a catastrophic plumbing failure involving your septic tank.

Other than that, just a magnificent day. Great group, good ride, inspirational energy from the children, huge, humbling donations, HOT! No mishaps and just one broken spoke. The absolute best of the Go Jim Go experience. We traveled 55miles in average 96 degree heat  to finish off the best week of Go Jim Go ever. With the Friday total of over $34,000, we now have an official grand total of $155,553!

Thank you Desoto County and South Memphis. So blessed. So grateful.

Rinse and repeat Monday in Forest City with the unpredictable fireworks of our amazing friend and Le Bonheur Go Jim Go Super Fan, Steve Roberts.

Patiently waiting for that cold front.

xox,
Balakay

P.S. Jim and Bill are fine, but the RV AC is still questionable.

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