Back from the 2004 Tour of Hope Finale

Tour of Hope 2004: Cecil Ledesma and Dave Aiello
Tour of Hope DC Fundraising riders Dave Aiello (left) and
Cecil Ledesma moments after crossing the finish line at
The Ellipse in Washington, DC. (Photo: Kathleen Aiello)
[ More photos from the 2004 Tour of Hope ]

Kathleen and I returned home from the 2004 Bristol-Myers Squibb Tour of Hope Finale late on Saturday night. We thought that the entire event-- from the start of the DC Fundraising Ride at Georgetown Prep School to the end of the National Team arrival ceremony at The Ellipse-- was spectacular.

I was able to connect with Cecil Ledesma a fellow rider from Pennsylvania who originally found me through Tour of Hope Coverage on Operation Gadget. I also spent time with my wife's parents and sister who came from their home in New Jersey to see me ride. My cousin Christie Cook, my friend from college Carolyn Lange and her son, and Operation Gadget reader Maria Norton all came from their homes in the suburbs to see me.

Left to right George Kuykendall, Joyce Kuykendall, Kathleen Aiello,
Dave Aiello, and Mary Kuykendall show off their LiveStrong wristbands.
(Photo: Christie Cook)

At the start of the ride, Lance Armstrong announced that about 900 riders raised the $500 required to participate in the ride. That means well over $450,000 were raised by the DC Fund-raising Riders alone. The Washington Post reported that he also said that this year's Tour of Hope coast-to-coast ride was different than last year's, "...the people along the sides of the roads . . . all times of day . . . it's been awesome." The DC Fundraising Ride was a continuation of that, with hundreds of people per mile out waving and clapping for amateur riders like me.

There are so many great stories to tell about the day. I will try to relate as many stories here as I can. My family and I took at least two dozen great pictures. When I saw them, I realized that we need to add a photo gallery system to Operation Gadget. I'll be working on that this week also.

Update: I built the Operation Gadget Photo Gallery and now you can find all of the 2004 Tour of Hope photos there.