Days 1-2-3-4 (Unicycle TN 2000)

I heard you did not receive the first 4 days of Unicycle Tennessee 2000… I am
putting all of them in the one email.

Thanks Sheree Hudgins

Day 1: April 22, 2000

Saturday Morning, April 22 Memphis, Tennessee

Ronald McDonald’s Send-Off for “Big Wheel” Hudgins

Don, Diana (our daughter) and I arrived at Ronald McDonald House around
9:00am. We were greeted by Jeff Patrick (a life long friend of Don’s and
President of Americom-one of our sponsors). He and Don briefly reminisced
about the days of their youth. A few minutes later, Hal Mabray (owner of The
Peddler Bike Shop another long-time friend of Don’s) arrived with his son,
Jacob. We briefly discussed the program in the lobby with Amy Petronis, who
is on staff with Ronald McDonald House.

It was a colorful bunch. We were greeted by costumed characters – Winnie the
Pooh, a fox, and a frog who had endless “snuggles” for the children. Easter
candy was passed around as countless adorable “huggie” shots were made by
parents with cameras and camcorders.

Afterwards, we walked outside and noticed Fox Channel 13 was outside waiting to
shoot the event. (They were also there yesterday (Friday) and did a story on Don
which was aired twice yesterday).

We appreciate Fox 13’s cooperation in helping to spread the word to the
public.Don peddled his unicycle around the circular drive and waved to the kids.
There were several photo ops and Don posed with the children as they held up
their numerous “Good Luck Don” posters. One poster said, “Bristol or Bust!”

Everyone bowed their heads as Jeff Patrick led prayer. Afterwards, Hal Mabray
spoke briefly and said that he and the folks at The Peddler were doing
everything in their power to keep Don safe on his journey across Tennessee.

Don then spoke. He (a former confirmed bachelor) mentioned that since he
recently got married, he understood more the true meaning of “family.” He
continued that because of that understanding of “family” he wanted to do the
something to help Ronald McDonald House (a family centered organization) by the
use of his unicycle (a device that brings joy to children).

He gave yours truly a kiss and made a couple of false starts.One false start and
he wheeled back to the crowd and said, “Wait – I’ve changed my mind!”

I got one more final kiss and out the gate he rode – and, my one-wheeled hero
was gone at 10:00 am.

Diana and I went out for coffee and, all the while, I imagined him dodging the
Memphis traffic. I decided to catch up with him to see how he had progressed. I
knew he was riding eastward on Central. I drove back and forth on Central a few
times and did not see him. Diana and I drove further eastward on his route and
we were amazed to find him on Humphrey’s Boulevard at 12:00 noon! (It only took
him two hours to get there from downtown Memphis!) He was riding south on
Humphreys. I was surprised to see him coming from that direction. He yelled to
me, “I took a wrong turn at Humphreys!”

I did not pursue him, because I knew he wanted to get miles behind him as
quickly as possible. His legs moved faster than the hillbilly music on our web
site. I was awe-struck at the time he had made.

Don called me at home at 12:45 pm today Saturday. He was about a mile from Macon
Road and Humphreys. He told me that when he was on Shady Grove, one man pointed
to him and said, “Look! There’s the man who was on TV last night!”

At 3:00, Don called me from the edge of Shelby County. He was eating fat-free
pretzels for a snack. He hopes to be at his destination by 6:00 this evening.
Don will stay at the home of Rodney Thomas, a co-worker with The City of
Memphis, in Oakland, Tennessee tonight-Saturday night. (It is slightly off from
his Somerville stop).

At 6:15, Don left a voice mail saying that he arrived in Somerville at 6:15 (a
54 mile journey). His friend, Rodney, picked him up and took him to this little
church where they were preparing their Easter Pageant. They placed him in a
little room and he was given a huge meal. He said he would call me later, but as
of this report, I have yet to hear from him again (It is now
10:30pm). At least I know he has a place to sleep and food in his stomach.

I just saw another report on Fox 13 about his departure from Memphis, and they
announced our DAILY UPDATES! I rushed into our computer room to get this out. I
plan to bring Don lunch tomorrow – perhaps in Bolivar, Tennessee. I want to
feed him something better than his standard fat-free pretzels (which he often
eats on these trips).

On Sunday night, Don will stay at the home of Harry Burkehead in Henderson,
Tennessee. Harry is the nephew of Jim Mayfield, a candidate for District 4
Supervisor in DeSoto County, Mississippi.

Amy of Ronald McDonald House, took me on a tour of their facilities yesterday.
The homelike setting was relaxing and I was moved by the camaraderie among staff
and families. I saw people dusting furniture and vacuuming. She told me that
parents take turns at various duties in the house. Parents and children worked
in the kitchen and some people could be found relaxing in the Commons as they
watched TV and cuddled their kids. The homelike setting is comforting to these
families and is truly needed during stressful times while their little ones are
being treated at St. Jude. I would like to do volunteer work there once things
settle down from this unicycle tour.

The TV station, Fox 13, called Don’s cause “A Wheel of Hope.” Thus far, we have
raised $1700 for Ronald McDonald House. We hope to raise $20,000. We hope the
momentum picks up as words gets out across the state. We ask everyone to join in
and help us with this cause. Please tell your family, friends and neighbors or
whoever you may know who can get the word out. We want to fill the Ronald
McDonald House pantry!

We plan to have pictures of his send off soon on our web site!

More tomorrow!

Take Care, Sheree Hudgins, Mrs. Big Wheel

Day 2: April 23, 2000

Computer Bugs! I am sorry “Daily Updates” on the Web is not working yet. But, WE
ARE WORKING ON IT! Apologies. We hope to have it operational by Monday! As all
of you probably can tell by now, this is the FIRST web site I have ever worked
on. Thank goodness for my daughter, Diana, and a very nice guy named Chuck. Now
on with today’s Update –

Long and Winding Roads

11:00 Sunday night Don called me after I mailed out the update at 9:45 last
night. He was in a beautiful old farm house that had a long and winding
tree-lined drive and nine-feet ceilings. He said that Rodney (a guy he works
with) and his family are nice people. Don also was invited to and attended an
Easter pageant earlier Saturday night and enjoyed a big meal at their church.

He said while he was on the road, a little girl rode on her bicycle along beside
him for a short distance. She recognized him as the “man on TV.” A couple riding
a motor cycle also stopped to talk to him. They said they had seen him on
television and wished him good luck. Rodney told Don they were getting up at
6:00 am and Don would call me early in the morning. Don plans to be around
Bolivar when I meet him for lunch along the side of the highway Sunday.

Sunday Morning I heard from Don at 10:15 this morning and he had breakfast at a
place called “The Hut” in Somerville. He said it was crowded and many people had
seen the broadcasts. People crowded around him and he gave people a few “spins”
in the parking lot.

He was on the road at 8:15 am and by the time he called me at 10:15, he had
already traveled 19 miles. He was just south of Bolivar. Diana and I will meet
him northeast of Bolivar on Silerton Road. (We are going there immediately after
church). And guess what he wants to eat? You guessed it – He wants pretzels
again. Plus a few sandwiches. He also requested two gator ades. Bye for now.
Must rush to church!

Sunday Afternoon Diana and I left Memphis at 1:00 and found Don at around 2:15
on Highway 125 (Silerton Road) just northeast of Bolivar. He looked slick and
fit. He stood with one leg crossed over the other while leaning on his unicycle.
(It was a perfect pose for an athlete!). As I pulled up, I noticed that he was a
bit sunburned. When I mentioned it, he shrugged it off and said he would get
lotion at the next store.

He said he was taking a break and had been waiting for me for about 45
minutes. He stopped at that point because it was the only place for miles that
had room for me to park my car. We were on a small gravel inlet in front of a
small fenced public utility facility of some sort. Whatever the facility was,
it had the number “13” on it. He was about ten miles from today’s destination.
By this time, he had ridden 40 miles. As we talked, he ate two tuna sandwiches
plus a pimento cheese sandwich. He downed two bottles of gator ade and a bag
of pretzels.

An Easter Egg hunt was ongoing in a huge front yard of a farm house across the
road. He told me that earlier, that family had invited him to eat with them, but
Don told them he was expecting his wife to drive up in a few minutes. He was
worried that I might miss him if he were away from the road.

Don, Diana and I visited for about an hour. He seemed grateful for his special
lunch delivery. I plan to meet with him next weekend. I hate it that we are at a
crucial time at my office. I could not take off with him for this trip because I
work at The University of Memphis and we are winding down the semester. There
are too many deadlines for me to be away for more than a day or two. Don may
double up his mileage one day so he can take a day off next Saturday in
McMinnville and we can have a day together, oh well.

He gave me a roll of film and I stocked him up with brochures and I also gave
him a sign which read “WWW.UNICYCLER.COM” to wear on his back. It is bright
yellow with black letters. It is also laminated. I thought the lamination would
help him if he got caught in the rain. Only thing is, the lamination glared like
a bright star in the afternoon sun as he drove off down the highway.

12:00 pm Don called me and said he arrived at the home of Harry and Jan
Burkehead of Henderson, Tennessee. He said they have a lovely home and he had
just finished a meal of Kentucky Fried chicken and cole slaw. He was relaxing
in a over-stuffed recliner, drinking iced tea and petting a black Labrador
Retriever. Sounds like a nice way to wrap up Day 2 of Unicycle Tennessee!

Take care y’all!

Sheree Hudgins

Mileage Count 54 Day 1 50 Day 2

104 miles so far!

Day 3

Houston: We Have a Problem!

Well folks:

Don stayed at Harry Burkehead’s home last night. Don said Harry called
several of his buddies to tell them about his special guest. Harry had a big
time laughing and talking all about Don and his wheel. Don was awakened at 3
in the morning by thunderstorms in Henderson. He thought about the journey
ahead but managed to get some more sleep. He was not worried. He has traveled
in storms before.

Our trooper was on the road at 7:00 this morning. He began his trek at
Montezuma. Later this morning, he called me from between the two booming
metropolises named FINGER and LEAPWOOD. I listened to him as he reported his
situation. At 10:00 this morning, his wheel began to make a screeching noise (A
bearing had gone bad). On one wheel, that could be a death sentence for a trip!
By that time, he had already traveled 18 miles. He hoped he could make it to
Leapwood to have an oil and lube which could keep him on the road longer. (Yes,
folks – one wheeled vehicles need tune-ups too).

I wished I could have seen him rolling that wheel into a filling station. I
imagine a grease monkey would ask, “Ya’ want me to check under your helmet,
Mister?” (Believe me – I’ve tried MANY times).

He called his good friend, Hal Mabray. Hal was going to send a bearing to Don
via his other friend, Jeff Patrick, who was planning to ride out tonight to see
Don. Several people are worried about Don - in many ways.

Jeff Patrick called me at 3:30 and told me he was on the way to The Peddler to
pick up the bearing. I thought WHAT? I thought he and Don had already
communicated about this situation hours ago.

I had left Don a message earlier around 1:00 and had not heard back from him.
A few minutes afterJeff called, I heard from Don. He told me that after he
had called me this morning, he walked on the road for a couple of hours.
Along the way, an old man yelled to him, “Fer just how long are you going to
measure that road, son?” Don smiled and waved and then decided to give his
wheel one more try.

The rain turned out to be a God send, because the rainwater on his axle worked
as an “insulation” to keep his wheel turning. (Don’t ask me exactly what this
means – I’m simply quoting here).

He managed to ride his wheel all the way to Savannah on Highway 64 which was
his original destination for this evening. He is staying at the fabulous
Komfort Motel in Savannah, Tennessee and I am happy to report he is again
munching pretzels.

He said some ‘kids’ (like in their early 20’s) were installing fibre
optic cables and they tried to convince him to join them for drinks. Our
hero declined.

Besides, there was a laundry mat across the street! He had an opportunity to
wash the great sum of 2 or 3 pieces of clothing which are in his fanny pack.
DON’T GO THERE! I used all the persuasion I could muster to plead with him to
take a couple more pieces of clothing. I’m afraid by the end of this trip, Don
and his shorts may run off to a romantic rendezvous on a South Sea Island.

Fanny pack stuffing is a science to Don. One he takes very seriously! I was
amazed last Saturday morning when he had all the items and sundries strewn over
our den floor. He had a screwdriver and wrench for his unicycle, a few articles
of clothing (including a raincoat), and, heaven forbid, DON’T FORGET THE ANUSOL!
By the time that thing was stuffed, he’d snarl when I’d try to hand him an extra

Don called me once more from his room around 10:00. Jeff Patrick made it there
with the bearing. They know a preacher in town who also works on bikes. They
probably will be back on the road tomorrow.

take care for tonight!

Sheree Hudgins

Mileage total yesterday 104

Miles Today 39
143 Miles TOTAL from Ronald McDonald House
of Memphis


Day 4

Tuesday Night

My hero began his morning at a McDonald’s in Savannah, Tennessee. (He even had a
Subway sandwich at lunch!) Don is not a person who usually eats fast food, but
this was a unique time. Its not everyday that one is off 150+ miles away from
home with only one wheel between him and the road.

Don and his friend, Jeff Patrick, learned that the preacher bike mechanic they
were hopeful about was actually a former motorcycle mechanic. The only thing the
parson could do for their bearing situation was pray. And, unfortunately, Jeff
had to go back to Memphis.

Don did manage to have the bearings greased and they are working fine at this
time. He is carrying spare parts with him. He did run into several bad hills
after leaving Savannah. He was enroute to Waynesboro, Tennessee

He had altered his route. Because of his precarious situation, he stayed on
Highway 64. By 2:30, Don had traveled 31 miles. He still had approximately 27
more miles till his destination in Lawrenceburg. He heard that the road to
Lawrenceburg should be easy because it is relatively flat. Also, Don had nice
weather working for him. It had been cool but it warmed up in the afternoon.

When Don rode into Waynesboro, he accidentally drove into a crowd of handcuffed
convicts who were on their way to the county court house. They were wearing
bright orange and white striped uniforms. The only female convict smiled at Don.
All the convicts laughed and cut up with Don as they headed towards the county
courthouse to hear their individual verdicts.

Don mulled over the several hours that still lay ahead. He figured he could hit
Lawrenceburg sometime around 7 or 8:00. Don wanted to double up on his mileage
today so he could take Saturday off. (I plan to meet him in McMinnville on
Friday night.)

Around 8:00 pm, Don finally arrived to his destination-Lawrenceburg. Don said
that it is a nice town with a scenic mountainous countryside and lots of farms
and cattle. The downtown area is rustic and has a Davy Crockett theme. He said
he was on the Plateau portion of Tennessee. “Climbing that plateau was not an
easy chore.”

There was one man who wanted to ride Don’s unicycle. And, the guy did ride it
and was good at it. A couple of people had their pictures taken with Don at a
grocery store and he was told that the LAWRENCEBURG ADVOCATE had published an
article about Don two weeks ago.

Two squad cars were parked across the street. The two young cops were inside
their cars and one of the cops motioned Don to his car. The cop asked, “What are
you doing?”

Don filled him in with the story.

The usual question is, “Why a unicycle?”

Don told them because he loves unicycles and has been riding them since he was
nine years old. He combined his love for cross country biking and his love for
unicycling into one – cross country unicycling.

The cops’ sergeant pulled up in his squad car and told the other two, “Oh, yeah!
Its you! I read about you in The Advocate a couple of weeks ago!”

Folks are friendly and keep giving him food.

His brother, Jesse, plans to meet Don tomorrow night in Lewisburg. He is
bringing his tools to help his “little brother” repair his unicycle and make it
as good as new.

Well, its past my bed time…

Night all…

Sheree Hudgins

Traveled today: 62 miles add that to toal mileage 143 accumulated miles as
of 4/24/2000
Total 205 miles from Ronald McDonald House of Memphis!

RE: Days 1-2-3-4 (Unicycle TN 2000)

Wow! Thanks for telling us about Don’s ride, It sounds awesome.


-----Original Message----- From:
[]On Behalf Of Sent:
Sunday, April 30, 2000 1:43 PM To: Subject: Days
1-2-3-4 (Unicycle TN 2000)

I heard you did not receive the first 4 days of Unicycle Tennessee 2000… I am
putting all of them in the one email.

Thanks Sheree Hudgins