Any story worth telling is always two stories: the story of what happened, and the story of what it meant. This book is a story about the worst day of my life and one of the best days of my life, and what happened in between that made it possible for me to make a difference in the lives of kids who have cancer and other life-threatening illnesses. It’s the story of competing in the grueling 3,000-mile bicycle trek known as Race Across America (RAAM) —and the mission-driven purpose that allowed us to succeed. Our team not only completed the race but also finished in eleven rather than twelve days, on top of placing first in our division. In addition to all of that, we raised more than double the pledged $150,000. And we not only produced an outcome that exceeded our objective, we also realized life and leadership lessons that forever changed us.

RAAM became a metaphor for everything I have learned as a business leader and endurance athlete about building a team and completing a mission. Like many businesses that are often subject to extreme market forces, with success or failure always hanging in the balance, we were sorely tested. The race, which begins in Oceanside, California, and ends in Annapolis, Maryland, is difficult not just because of the distance you have to cover in a small amount of time. It is difficult because the course itself—it is a monster that, over its 30-year history, has destroyed more than two-thirds of the rookie racers and more than half of the veterans— seems alive and hell-bent on preventing you from reaching your goal.