At this point in the Fallen 5 Drive I spent every night out in the streets either in the truck, on the ground, or in a friend’s car with more leg room. I didn’t anticipate having so many supplies for myself and feeding or watering about 50 people per day. It was quite a challenge to have all that packed in there and lay comfortably. Also, working out during the trip didn’t help with my comfort levels! In other words, I was growing tired. The weather was great except for one day when it rained for about an hour and I had to use the tarp roof.
This day was Friday the 13th and it was a full harvest moon as well! This was going to be a special day and evening. Each Friday any city livens up from people getting off after a long weekend. Tourists also flourish the city seeking all Chattanooga has to offer.
This day was special because Chattanooga was out of water! Late Thursday evening the 3 foot water main burst causing the water for the entire city to be out! This day we were out in the heat passing out waters and burritos. We felt rich as we gave water when there were so many without. I intended on giving freely before the water outage, but to know the people that needed it most were getting it was particularly special. We were happy to help anyone in need!
Later that evening my boys were planned to be with me downtown, but with the water outage we decided to stay outside of the city. As a parent it is always important to put them first so we camped out in the camper.
Mack, Miley, and I awoke early in the morning in the truck and I was very tired from the day before. For 2019 I wanted to put myself in homeless people’s shoes by living in the truck for the duration of the mission. Preparing for the mission was stressful and difficult to cram everything into the truck. Making room to sleep was quite a challenge, but we managed to make some comfort. I had not anticipated the discomfort from working out since it had been so long. A good night’s sleep is nothing to take for granted.
After stretching and waking up I went on another run with the dogs. Taking a grown dog is tough, but two with one being a puppy is quite a challenge. After we started the dogs got the hang of it somewhat. As we ran across Walnut Street Bridge the puppy was dragging behind; I thought she was tired. To my surprise she had to potty and so there I was picking up turds with my bare hands and running them to the trash! Next time I will bring a bag or at least try and make them go potty before we run! I made two laps for the Fallen 5 and loved crossing Veteran’s Bridge and seeing their plaques on 5 poles. It inspired me to push harder, to know I should be doing more for myself, to honor the Fallen 5.
After getting back to truck I realized I was completely covered in sweat and my Noogastrong shirt was soaked. I realized that I didn’t have a shower either and I would just have to cool down. I made some French pressed coffee and ate a little food. Our next mission was to hand out water and the PBJ sandwiches. We searched the town over and looked for people. We were successful in giving away all of the food and most of the waters. The goal is to hand out 2 waters and 1 food item to each person.
Another mission is to make the truck look as good a possible to represent the Fallen 5 properly. The decals and paint from prior years is show it’s age. After my accident I was not able to care for the truck and it sat outside for the winter and the sun got the decals to peel. I headed to the library to reprint the decals and put them on for each man. I want people to know what the truck is about when they see it, so I can point to their names and speak about their sacrifices.
For the 2nd round of feeding I decided that hot dogs would be a good thing to make. I bought 48 hotdogs, buns, beans, ketchup, mustard, and other supplies for feeding. I also bought more water and filled a new cooler to keep the food safe and cool out in the hot weather.
For the evening we decided to park somewhere more quiet and secure. Sleeping in a truck with no top and exposed is a unique experience. You hear everything and feel the city, it never sleeps. We visited Craven’s House and were blessed with an amazing sunrise.