Saint Francis Health System became the site of a tragedy this week. I was horrified, not just as the Director of the Saint Francis Tulsa Tough, but as a citizen of Tulsa and a human being. I started asking basic questions about this event. About our response as a community sharing a profound sense of loss. About whether we should even have it.
We are talking about our event in the midst of a tragedy. Like everyone else, I was having a hard time knowing what to do next. This is unfamiliar and uncomfortable ground. Then a strange thing started happening. Texts, emails and direct messages started arriving. This one in particular from Columbus, Georgia - 787 miles from Tulsa resonated with me.
This year for my eighth time, I will be in town for the race, but on Friday night before Blue Dome starts, it will feel different. That weekend will be the first big event for your city after this shooting. It will hopefully be the event that allows the city to collectively exhale and remember that one single day does not define the spirit of a city. Saint Francis Tulsa Tough, not just a bicycle race weekend, but the heartbeat of your city. - Thomas Patterson
16 years we’ve been at this. We’ve been embraced by you. We are part of this city’s culture now. This event did not start with me alone. It started with a handful of Tulsans sitting around and daydreaming about what we would love to see happen.
Since then, we’ve witnessed thousands of criterium racers provide some of the most exciting racing in the country. We’ve had the privilege of watching tens of thousands of Fondo riders depart in the dawn light to meet (and conquer) their challenges. We’ve watched many happy families participate in our Townie rides and make memories on bicycles that endure a lifetime.
This event is brought to you by dozens of dedicated teams striving to make sure this year’s event is better than last year’s.
We are hundreds of amazing volunteers about whom superlatives fail. All of these people pour their souls into this. If you ever thought this was a great event, it is because the people working tirelessly behind the scenes are so invested. I am eternally grateful for each and every one of them.
The support of the business community has been nothing short of humbling. Racers and spectators alike all benefit from their support. This would not be nearly the event it is without all of our sponsors. “Thankful,” does not seem like a big enough word.
Lastly, and most importantly, we have been blessed by the support of Saint Francis Health System. They have not been merely a title sponsor. Saint Francis has been our partner since day one. I am getting emotional writing this. I feel a deep and profound connection with all the amazing people from Saint Francis.
We all feel this loss.
There is simply no way this becomes the landmark event for Tulsa without them. Tulsa does not get the opportunity to showcase what an amazing city we have without the partnership of Saint Francis.
We also understand this event’s place in the city and its citizens. We understand the power of a bike ride. We understand the power of community.
We understand we can be a source of light in a dark moment.
Saint Francis Tulsa Tough will proceed.
The races that bring us together will go on. The Fondos that make us healthier will roll out. The Williams Townie ride will bring people of all ages and abilities together, just for the sake of being together.
Before the event kicks off, I want to say the following to our racers, our participants, our fans and Tulsa as a whole: Our sincere and profound hope is to provide this event as a place to support each other and be a source of light and love for our community and city.
We are Saint Francis Tulsa Tough. With love, Malcolm.