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Thank Your Co-Pilot

The road trip ends tomorrow. I have no idea how that is possible. On one hand, I am excited to hug my parents and play with my dog. On the other hand, I’m not nearly as exhausted or burnt out as I thought I might be and could easily consider adding a few more states in the north east to the agenda.

August 15th – we are currently in Zack’s house outside of Youngstown, Ohio. I just completed our final Kindness Link. We worked with the Cincinnati Alzheimer’s Association’s Memories in the Making (art therapy) program to paint beautiful pictures of flowers. We framed the artwork and I took them to a support group in Youngstown. To really allow things to go full circle, I asked the support group if they would write a postcard to Nicole, my friend from New York City, whose nonprofit organization Cubs for Coping officially started the entire trip two months ago. I also sent Nicole one of the framed pieces of art.

I’ll be back in Pennsylvania tomorrow. I’ll be sleeping in my childhood bedroom in the neighborhood that taught me how to play Capture the Flag and Rundown. I’ll be surrounded by all things familiar. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

I told myself I wouldn’t worry about what the future holds until the trip officially ends, so I won’t. Instead, I will give an overdue shout out to my co-pilot, Zack Shively.

When I half-jokingly asked Zack if he wanted to quit his job and become my Marketing and Logistics Manager for the summer, I didn’t think he would say yes. Having been best friends throughout college, I was convinced he’d be either the best or the worst person to drive with and there would be no middle ground and we would know by Virginia.

In truth, he’s been the best and the worst and the middle ground all in the same day. I know I’m just as guilty. We’ve had our share of “highs, lows, and uh-ohs” throughout the adventure but at the end of the day, I am so grateful to have had him by my side.

Where I am impatient and irrational, Zack is calm and calculated. Where I have tendency to jump to conclusions or melt down over things that aren’t worth melting down over, Zack remained steady. Through all our differences, we somehow made a team that survived over 50 days of constant togetherness. More than survived, we thrived. We were always somewhere new. We were always somewhat out of what was “normal” pre-trip. But we always had each other. And that made this journey possible.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you, Zack.

Love always,


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