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"You get to make a choice. You can remake that choice everyday, in fact. It's never too late to choose optimism, to choose action, to choose excellence. The best thing is that it only takes  a moment—just one second to decide. 

Before you finish this paragraph, you have the power to change everything that's to come. And you can do that by asking yourself (and your colleagues) the one question that every organization and every individual needs to ask today:
Why not be Great?"

-Seth Godin

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Ryan's Bama Story

May 12, 2011

Day 1 

It is Thursday, May 12, 2011, the first day of our trip to Alabama.  We began our journey at 8:10 AM.  We had sunny skies, high hopes, and high spirits as we left the familiar Flemington atmosphere on a typical Thursday morning; kids going to school, businesses opening their doors for the day, and people doing there normal, daily routines.  We began our 17 hour drive listening to music and talking about each stop we were going to make while on the way.  I was complaining of a History paper I had to type and a Spanish project I had to do, not realizing how lucky I really had it.  After 5 hours of driving, a half hour of dead stop traffic, and a half hour of lunch, we managed to pass our way through New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, and now into Virginia.  We still have an eight and a half hour car ride ahead of us until we stay at a hotel for the night in Tennessee.  As of now, I don’t know what to expect to see in Alabama.  In my head, I picture houses with roofs torn up, fallen trees, and people with downed spirits.  In the truck, we have tons and tons of diapers and baby formulas along with tools, snacks, and all the way down to milk-bones for dogs.  BAMA HERE WE COME!!

…It is now 6 PM.  It has been 10 hours since we departed Flemington .  We ate lunch at around 12:30 in Virginia.  We are currently still in Virginia and who knew it was such a huge state.  We just passed through Glade Spring, Virginia and got a taste of what Alabama is going to look like.  A tornado ripped through there as well and for about a half a mile stretch there were trees everywhere and piles of wood from what is left of the houses.  Now, half of a mile further, it’s like nothing even happened.  4 more hours until we get to our hotel in Tennessee and stay the night.  I’ve already typed a paper, watched two movies, and almost listened to every song on my I-pod.  And I thought going to North Carolina was a long trip! BAMA, still, HERE WE COME!!


May 13, 2011

Day 2

It is Friday, May 13, 2011, the second day of our trip to Alabama.  This morning we got up early from our hotel room in Chattanooga, Tennessee and drove the last two hours to Birmingham, Alabama.  We arrived at 10 AM but luckily we gained an hour since in Alabama it was really only 9 AM.  After struggling to find our destination at first, we pulled up to the Christian Service Mission where our day began.  We backed into the loading/drop-off dock amongst hundreds of other caring people, most of which were from local churches.  We began unloading our supplies as they brought what we had into their giant warehouse full of supplies with hundreds of hard working volunteers getting the supplies ready to ship out to those tornado victims in need.  Almost all of the people there gave our truck compliments and even some of them took pictures. Although we hadn’t seen any devastation yet, that was soon to change.  As they loaded up our truck with new supplies to deliver to other drop off points, we heard stories from locals about the devastation and how truly horrible the situation was.  It gave us fuel to push on with our mission and help those in need.  We delivered our first load to the St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Adamsville, Alabama, about 20 minutes away.  About five minutes from the Christian Mission, we passed a completely destroyed neighborhood that we promised we would come back to on our way back.  When we arrived at St. Patrick's, we were given nothing but respect and appreciation from those at the church.  They offered us food, drinks, and anything else we wanted.  It was amazing how people who had lost so much were still so nice and willing to share.  Yet, we respectfully declined and had to get back on our way to make another delivery.  On our way back, we stopped at the devastated neighborhood and drove through to see what all of our hard work and time was going towards.  It was amazing how one area could have been so destroyed and the next could be perfectly fine.  The force of the tornado and its heartbreaking aftermath are difficult to describe.  There were foundations without houses, stairs leading to missing second floors, cars on their sides, and people who had lost everything – including loved ones.  Over 200 people were killed across Alabama on April 27th.  Given the destruction, it’s amazing that number wasn’t much higher.

After we spent time at the site, we went back to the Christian Service Mission to continue our service to those in need.  When we arrived again, we loaded up for the last time, an hour and a half trip up to Anniston, Alabama to provide supplies for 150-200 people in the area including Calhoun County, an area demolished by the tornadoes.  We completely loaded the truck for this trip, taking every last bit of space available on the truck, said our goodbyes, and we were off.  Once we arrived, we unloaded our supplies quickly and efficiently, leaving our truck looking the emptiest it had been the whole trip.  The people in Anniston were extremely nice and appreciative.  By this time, we had put in a full day’s worth of work and were ready to start our trip home.  We drove four hours towards the Knoxville, Tennessee area where we got a hotel room and had an unusual experience of walking through a drive-thru at Wendy’s before spending the night.  By far this was the best day of the trip and one of the most productive, hardworking, and fulfilling I had in a long time. 


May 14, 2011

Day 3

It is Saturday, May 14, 2011, our third and last day of the trip to Alabama.  Today we had a 15-hour drive home to New Jersey so we were up and going early.  After a quick breakfast we were off.  For the first time I got to sit in the front with my dad, where I occasionally used the cool gadgets the truck had, so that my mom could take a quick nap.  After that, the rest of the trip came and went fast.  After watching a movie and listening to my I-Pod, I blinked and we were already in Pennsylvania, only 4 hours left in our trip.  After a couple quick stops for lunch, dinner, and gas, we were practically home!  After one of the longest 3 days of my life, it was all over.  We were home, reflecting on everything that had happened and feeling good about our efforts but concerned for those still impacted and in need of help.  It gave us a better appreciation for what we have.  We felt like we had accomplished our mission and given to those who needed our help.  Until our next mission - do great, feel great, be great.


References (2)

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  • Response
    Excellent Web-site, Carry on the excellent job. Thank you so much.
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    Something Great Foundation - Event 7 - Bama Bound - Ryan's Bama Story

Reader Comments (2)

Ryan - You made me cry!! What a great narrative about your trip. I know how you feel about Virginia, sometimes it feels like you can't get anywhere in this country without spending 4 hours in Virginia;-) These disasters are forgotten so quickly, I am glad you had this experience and were able to help so many people. It's an amazing thing you all are doing! Love, Aunt Susan

May 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAunt Susan

Congratulations for a job well done. I can't believe you made this long trip in such a short period of time. Hats off to all of you. The O'Connells

May 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCarolynn O'Connell

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