IMG_0633     Leaving Buena Vista, CO, I climb to the top of Trout Creek Pass through reddish canyons and sage brush that open to wide valleys with snow topped mountains in the distance. It is a road I had driven many times. While living in Crested Butte, CO I would often go to Boulder to visit friends, never imagining that years later I would be running this same road. On this day I am lost in quiet thoughts. I need no music. The road is busy with people leaving the city and headed for the mountains. I am lucky, the shoulder is large enough to accommodate myself and my stroller. Puff clouds are gathering in the distance and I think that I may not escape the rain today.

Then she appears.

At my next mile marker is a young girl. Her mother is nearby and it is obvious they are waiting for me. She stands there, her blonde hair tucked under her helmet as she stands next to her mountain bike. Her name is Cali. Her mother is Clo. Cali has two white roses in her hand and when I place my flag she lays the roses next to it and thanks our young Marine for his service while I salute. Together, we move down the highway. I run, she rides. For the next 4 miles we repeat our procedure. I salute, she places roses. I learn that Cali is 13 years old. She has a brother in the Marines and I sense she adores him. She is witty and smart and devoted to Veterans Causes. I find this fascinating and admirable and see maturity beyond her years. There is more though.

You see, Cali has a prosthetic leg. Four years ago it was partially amputated.  She has survived 14 major surgeries and bacterial spinal meningitis. She will eventually lose her leg just above the knee as her body grows and her leg doesn’t. Her prosthetic is camoflage and bears the logos of our Armed Forces. On the back of it are the initials of her brother. There is a guardian angel which represents those we have lost, still watching over us.  A butterfly represents the casualties.

Her mother says Cali is unique, that she is raising a difference, not a child who is different but a child who has a calling and who is making a difference in those that she touches. In a world that so often seems so self absorbed, this angel took the time out of her young life to find me on the road and she takes time out of her life to reach out to those Vets that feel that their life is empty and meaningless. Hers is such a selfless, genuine act. Her love of country, her love of those that are serving radiates from her beautiful eyes as we talk. Her innocence, her energy are contagious and I know truly, that she is a today person, that her goodness and her direction isn’t put off till tomorrow. This is a rare thing to experience these days.

Later we would we say goodbye and hug and I could still feel her warmth and compassion long after she disappeared down the road. I realize then that there is hope for our future. There are lessons to be learned.  There are great things happening around us if we open our eyes, if we listen to our children and most importantly if we believe in them. I saw it today,  on Highway 285 when an angel appeared and her name was Cali.


  1. Big Clyde

    Thank you so much for doing this and for your project. It is very inspirational and a great reminder to all of us that we should be grateful for those who have served and sacrificed so much.

  2. Mark

    My Dad was a veteran of WWII. Over the years, he would write me letters and weave together in a story the positive things he saw around him. When the clouds seem imminent with stormy weather he would share life’s obeservations of hope for the future. Thank you for bringing this to us in your experiences on the road.

  3. Clo

    “We” were Blessed to get to meet you ! God Bless you, God Bless America!!! and God Bless our Troops

    Thank you sharing them and their sacrifices with the rest of us ! America is great because of the greatness in its people. You are truely one of those people.

    untill we meet again Clo and miss Cali and yes she is an “Angel”

  4. Lori

    May you be greeted on your journey by more of them who live and support you and our Troops. She is a inspiration to everyone who reads this.

    Stay safe on your journey

  5. Ellie Lizotte

    I, too, have great faith in our future by recognizing the incredible spirit of those children like Cali who are making a difference right now!!!
    I believe children are the jewels of the earth and they need to be honored and cherished because they teach us about ourselves. They are the source of all that is good and wholesome in our world. There is so much good our children are doing to make this world a better place. Thank you so much Mike for reminding us of how blessed we are with our caring, loving and compassionate younger generation. How sweet it is………what an impact you are having with life and the living through honoring the deceased… you

  6. Sharon Coleman

    The story about Cali is beautiful. I think, on that day, you were both angels in each others hearts. God brought 2 very special people together to fill each others hearts with joy & understanding of each other in a unique way. The passion that drives you, drives Cali as well. What an awesome God that we serve, seeing our needs & providing us with these special moments that only He can orchestrate. May God continue to bless you & Cali as you move on, serving His purpose. My grandson is a Marine, & just arrived Okinawa this past week. He is serving his country & living his dream. He is my hero, along with all those who currently serve, & those that have given their lives while serving the United States of America. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for everything you stand for.

  7. paula salazar donoso (tu prima)

    hola didie soy la hija de angela la hija de lucia,es toy muy feliz de tener un primo genio creeme que me siento orgullosa de ti,cuando vengas a
    colombia te quiero conoser. abrazos paula tengo 8 años


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