In July we held our first official fundraiser as Inspired by Thee. We went to Cedar Point Amusement park in Sandusky Ohio, which is known as the roller coaster capital of the world. A lot of people asked, “Why Cedar Point?” Well, there were a couple of reasons. First of all, the park is amazing, and there is something for everyone; kids and those of us who are kids at heart. We could plan an event that everyone could enjoy. Secondly, Cedar Point is a special place for me. It is a place that we always looked forward to visiting as children and it was one of the last trips that Kyle and I took together. I have some awesome memories of that day. One in particular was our ride on Magnum, which is a pretty scary roller coaster at the park. I remember climbing the first hill and I believe that for a moment I actually stopped breathing. Kyle looked at me, with a truly concerned look in his eyes and he yelled, “Erica, breathe!”
It’s interesting. When I found out my brother was gone, it was as if someone had knocked the wind out of me. It was truly an unexpected blow and I found myself gasping for air, reaching for something that could help me make sense of it all. It has taken enduring many peaks and valleys over an extended period of time, for me to get to the point, where I can truly breathe again.
As I prepared to launch Inspired by Thee, which is probably one of the most important efforts I have ever undertaken, it seemed only fitting that I set out to conquer one of my fears. I love roller coasters, but I have always been afraid of Millennium Force at Cedar Point. With a 300 ft. drop and a top speed of 93mph, it is one of the tallest and fastest roller coasters in the world. When we arrived at the park, the first ride everyone wanted to get on was…of course….Millennium Force. Outwardly, I remained confident in my decision, but inwardly I was thinking, “Can’t we build up to this?”
The Lesson: Sometimes you just have to go for it!
As we walked to the entrance of the ride, I looked around at who was standing with me. Family and friends, believers in Inspired by Thee. Some of these individuals, I’ve known practically all of my life. When I was a sophomore in high school at University Liggett School, I wrote and produced a play called a “Celebration of African American History”. It was performed at the school and brought students from grades preK-12 as well as other members of the community together for an evening of inspiration, entertainment and learning. Five of the individuals who came with me to launch Inspired by Thee had participated in the play 22 years earlier. Isn’t life funny? People come into your life for reasons that you don’t know…until you just know.
When we reached the front of the line at Millennium Force and took our seats, I stared at that first hill. As the train made its way towards the peak, I took a moment to look around at the beautiful blue sky and embraced the magnitude of the height we had reached. I took a deep breath, in anticipation of what was to come…and as the train went over the first hill, I let out a scream filled with pure joy.
Check out the video above for our reaction to Millennium Force!