I left Benton, Ohio on Sunday afternoon, June 1, and stuck my front bicycle wheel in the Atlantic Ocean on Friday evening, June 6. I had challenged you folks to pledge per mile and I estimated that the trip would be 500 miles. The pledges added up to $27.00 per mile ($13,500) to be used for our transportation needs. When I went to perform the symbolic “wheel in the ocean” ceremony, I noticed that my odometer read 499½ miles. So I rode a half mile farther down the beach and held the ceremony there! Yes, folks. It was 500 miles! And it wouldn't have been 500 if I hadn't got lost a couple of times on the way.

I was sore every mile of the way. My arm hurt because of a rotator cuff that I finally got fixed by surgery the end of June. As I write this, I have to rest every other sentence or so because my arm is still sore and tired from surgery. I can take the sling off now and then, but I'm tender.

I didn't miss any concerts or prisons, however. The first weekend I formed a new group called “The Wounded Man Band” and they played three concerts while I sang with my arm in a sling. By the second week I was able to play guitar, even though I grimaced a little until about half way through the first song. At Southeastern Prison yesterday, the inmates would not have known I was hurting if I hadn't told them.


When I was in 8th grade we played basketball against Mt. Eaton, the school with the Ohio High School basketball record that may never be broken: 99 losses in a row! And when we played them they only had 5 players. No one on the bench. One of their players was an Amish boy with his long denim pants and work shoes clumping up and down the floor. No uniform. Looking back, I'm guessing that they only had four players and the coach probably grabbed this big Amish boy and asked him to stay after school and play. Who knows?

Since he was the tallest boy on the floor, he jumped center. When the ref held the ball between the two centers, he slapped the ball out of his hand into the gut of one of his surprised teammates. The kind referee blew his whistle and explained the rules to this novice.

We Franklin Township boys have laughed about that scene for lo, these many years. But about 6 years ago it dawned on me that I would probably know this boy. I've been around the block a few times since my isolated Franklin days- and I know a lot of people in the Mt. Eaton area. He would be my age.

I asked my Kidron buddy, Ray J. Miller, who that would be. What Amish boy was in my grade in Mt. Eaton? He didn't even hesitate. “Oh, that would be Freeman Miller, my cousin.”
“Would I know him?”
“Probably not. He left the area, got his GED, went to Med school, and is now an orthopedic surgeon in Wilmington, Delaware.”

I called him up. “This is John Schmid. Have you heard of me?”
“Do you remember playing basketball in eight grade?”
“Oh, my!” (I think maybe he was trying to forget.)
“I refreshed his memory and we laughed. I sent him a couple of my CDs and we have exchanged a few phone calls over the last 6 years.

Ray J. Miller drove out to Greenwood, Delaware to haul me and my bike back to Ohio after my bike tour. On Saturday, we decided to call Freeman Miller, 100 miles north of Greenwood, and try to get together. He said he was having a cook out with some friends, but come on up.

We got there in time to meet his 14 guests, all orthopedic surgeons, all students of his. Two were from Jordan, one from Georgia (the country), two from China, and several from various states. This ex-Amish basketball player's influence in medicine is world-wide! I met him (again) because of a bicycle trip. (And he barbecues a mean steak.)

Common Ground Ministries

John was singing in a country western band at the time of his conversion in 1972. God changed his desire for stardom in Nashville to ministry.

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