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In the Beginning

At the start, most of the team members were strangers to me. I knew only three of the 24 members, so this ride was going to be more than just a charity fundraiser; it was going to be a sociological experiment. In essence, let's take 24 strangers and have them live out of 5 small minivans together for 10 days, while we slowly creep across the United States on bicycles at 15 mph, document it all on video and see what happens. The result was, after riding over 3,300 miles from San Francisco to Washington D.C., crossing 14 states in 10 days, visiting with countless children fighting cancer in hospitals across the country, and helping to successfully lobby in front of the Senate for the passage of the Carolyn Pryce-Walker Conquer Childhood Cancer Act, we (Team Will) had become a family that had gone to hell and back with a goal of making a difference.

Just Keep Shooting

As a director, I knew I wanted to tell a story and convey a message that was more than just a promotional video for Team Will. I wanted the average viewer to watch the film and come away with something they could apply to their own everyday lives. Of course, I didn't know what this message would be or how I would do this, it all seemed like such an astronomical task. I just kept the clich├ęd director's philosophy in the back of my mind to “just keep shooting no matter what happens.” I figured something would have to eventually take shape. During the 10 day ride, over 60 hours of footage was shot so needless to say much of it was left on the cutting room floor. Soon I realized the message I wanted to tell, and that message became clear to me as we were riding through Indiana. After seeing what some of these riders were going through with sleep deprivation, fatigue, and sickness, it was nothing compared to what the children who were fighting cancer were going through. So even with all the footage to go through in the editing process, once I had that concept, everything became much more manageable.

Denver Hospital

Visiting St. Luke's Presbyterian Medical Center in Denver, CO is where things hit me and made me realize this was more than just a bike ride, this was really something special. It is almost hard to put into words what was going through all of our minds at that moment. After all, by this point we had already been riding for 3 days with maybe 4 hours sleep total. So to now make an appearance at a hospital, visit with doctors, children and families, and not come across like all we wanted to do was sleep just didn't seem possible. However once we arrived and saw the first few children, all of a sudden sleep was the last thing on everyone's mind. Their smiles lit up the room and gave us the energy we needed to keep going. Here we were supposed to be supporting and encouraging them, but what we didn't expect is how they encouraged and motivated us.

Walking the Halls of the U.S. Senate

By the time we arrived in Washington D.C. to the Reach the Day Rally hosted by CureSearch, we were all on our last wind. Once the Rally ended, we had the opportunity to meet with Senators and Representatives to help lobby for the Carolyn Pryce Walker Conquer Childhood Cancer Act. As a cameraman, I had assumed these were going to be closed door meetings. . .no cameras allowed. After all, Team Will's presence wasn't scheduled for these meetings, not to mention the amount of security around D.C. in general was beyond astronomical. I couldn't walk down a side walk carrying a video camera without being questioned by security and there were so many places I was told I couldn't stand just to get b-roll shots of some of the city skyline. So to be able to take a video camera through metal detectors and into a senator's office, let alone be able to record the meeting seemed out of the question. However to my pleasant surprise, many of the Offices were more than welcoming. As I stood there taping, all I could think was never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I'd have the opportunity to do something like this, and while standing there I realized that moment would be the end of my film. It was very special.

Score

This project was a complete donation of my time and resources, there really wasn't a budget. So when it came to the music, I was either going to have to score the project myself (which wasn't possible as I can't even play chopsticks), or find someone who believed in the project, had the talent, and would be gracious enough to donate their time and resources. I was incredibly luck to cross paths with music artist Jon Pauling. I first heard him perform his song "Carry Me Home" at a funeral service for one of Team Will's Heroes and instantly I knew I wanted that to be the closing song for the film. I approached him and asked if I could use it, he said yes without hesitation. Then, having nothing to lose, I explained I needed a music score, and again without hesitation he said no problem. I'll never forget visiting him at his recording studio and listening to his themes for the first time, they far exceeded my expectations and I couldn't have been happier. I see this as being the first of many projects we will collaborate on.