A little over a week ago I flew to Austin, Texas to view a cut of the Team Rwanda documentary, Rising From Ashes. This movie has been a major labor of love for so many people, sitting for years on the shelf when there was no money to finish it. However, the powers that be would not let it continue to collect dust. Through some passionate pleas of a couple of Team Rwanda board members to a very generous and equally passionate investor the movie is in its final stages, hopefully to be completed by the end of October and released in early 2012.
I flew in on a Monday, met with TC, the filmmaker and Greg, the producer to talk about the long term marketing strategy for the movie. We do not want people to just see the movie, be all warm and fuzzy and perhaps inspired and then do nothing. We want to move people to act, to be part of this movement to build cycling in Rwanda, Africa and to eventually be a part of supporting the first black African team to ride in the Tour de France. This year, above all years, when I watched the Tour all I saw was a sea of white. I want to be a part of changing that for future generations of riders.
Tuesday I met with some talented men in Dallas who have also become part of this movement and want to help the Team with our Strategic Plan and marketing for the future in conjunction with the movie. Often I am overwhelmed by the talent, experience and knowledge of the people who offer to help us. This is not my area of expertise, I sold food for a living, what do I know about marketing a National Cycling Team? All I know is this is a story that needs to be told and all I'm going on is my passion for telling it. I believe I'm just being put in front of all the right people.
Last Tuesday evening I saw the film with five other people who were there to see it and provide feedback to TC and Greg. I was not going to provide any accurate feedback as I am way too close to the story which was evident in the first three minutes when I started to cry. I started to cry when I saw the scenes of Rwanda. Just the country. I make no secret of my love/hate relationship with Rwanda. It's not really a "hate" per se, it's more an extreme frustration, an inescapable exhaustion that at times hits me like a wave crashing on the shore. I want so much to help these riders but their pasts, their lives even today are so tremendously difficult, crushingly difficult, painful. When I see them smile I am overcome with emotion. There is not a day in Rwanda I can make it through where my eyes don't well up with tears....frustrating tears, pain tears and the best of all...joyful tears. And so I watched the film and sobbed. I am shocked by how much the boys have changed in five years. They are young, confident men who speak English, lead younger riders and laugh...they really laugh! I am also struck by how much Jock has aged. Rwanda, this Team, this life has not been easy for him. My admiration for what he has done, for him as a human being has increased exponentially.
This morning I'm sitting in a generic Starbucks in Park City, Utah. I am here at Dealer Camp, here to tell the story of the team to anyone, any vendor, any potential sponsor who will listen and want to help. Jock, Max, Nathan, NicNic, Boy, Gasore, Kiki and Obed are in Brazil at the Tour of Rio, the team's first invitation to a race outside of the continent of Africa.
Adrien is in London getting to ready to race on the course he will race in the Olympics next summer. Yesterday afternoon I received an email from Greg, our film producer who is in London filming Adrien for the ending of the film....
Now for the first time Adrien is able to truly imagine what this opportunity means for him. Tonight was particularly special, we went to a special event in Trafalgar Square where the Olympics put on a one year until the Olympics event. There were about 30,000 people packed into this square, they unveiled the Olympic medals, and formally invited the Olympians to come to London. Adrien was in the crowd, his eyes were huge, and he turned to us and said... "Now I can see it."