• Rodman Rider Spotlight: Jonathan Igoe

    By Marie McGrath | Posted Friday, September 13th, 2019

Meet Jonathan Igoe, Director of Overland Summers and one of the Rodman Ride Team TextLess Live More captains.

Read about his relationship with TextLess Live More, how he came to the ride, and what Living More means to him.

TextLess Live More is part of who I am and is important to our family.  Back in 2013, I was the Director at Overland, as I am today. That summer, when Merritt Levitan finished her senior year in high school, she embarked on our cross country bicycle trip called the American Challenge. Ten days into the trip, which is 85-100 miles a day from the East Coast of the United States to California, she was struck by a distracted driver who collided with the majority of the group of riders. Merritt was close to the back of the group and suffered a traumatic head injury from which she never recovered. 

My first real interactions with the Levitans were in the follow-up to that crash. It was an incredibly difficult time. To see their family take that devastating moment in their lives and work towards something that is so meaningful, that can impact so many lives, and that makes the world a better and safer place for everyone has been remarkable. We saw their grace immediately in the aftermath of 2013 in how they comforted the other kids who were involved and injured and the leaders who were so upset. 

To see Rich and Anna lead TextLess Live More with passion, humility and humanity has been so powerful. I’ve gotten to know Merritt, and she helps me think about how I lead my life. The Levitan family, Rich, Anna, Joe and Hunter, have each impacted me and my wife Kathleen and our kids. They have shown us how it is possible to respond to tragedy with goodness and how to reach out and bring others along.

As an organization, Overland has grown and learned from that incident. In the summer, all of our leaders understand that Merritt was a student on an Overland trip. They know about the Rodman Ride and the efforts that TextLess Live More makes to end distracted driving. It has become part of our story and who we are. Our staff embraces the message of Textless Live More and passes it along to the students they lead as they show our students how much potential and beauty there is in the world. We offer challenges and new experiences for students who are eager to discover their place in the world as they work as part of a team towards a shared goal.

To join Team TLLM and ride, either virtually or in Boston, on September 21st, click here.

To donate to Jonathan’s ride, click here.

So much of our mission resonates with TLLM. When you’re distracted and focused down on your device, you’re not able to appreciate the world around you and to be present for the people around you. So, our trips are and always have been technology-free, which, for many kids, is one of the rare opportunities in their lives to not be in front of a screen. This is a hugely positive component of what we do and is a central piece of the experience that our students have.

There are aspects of our lives where texting and even social media to some extent is essential. So, how can you help young people to establish boundaries and be responsible around that in ways that are sustainable? To help them recognize that they’re going to be happier and healthier if they connect in person with other people or go outside and experience something new or just be in a beautiful place, rather than tucked away on a screen. 

The concept of ‘living more’ reminds me of a Mary Oliver quotation on our refrigerator: “Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.” The Rodman Ride is a wonderful way to connect with others who care about the work you all are doing and want to make roads safer for our kids, families, and everyone.

My Rodman Ride story began when Rich Levitan invited me to join the team several years ago. He called me personally to ask if I would ride with him. I was not able to that year but promised I would the next fall. This will be my fourth time riding for Merritt, and I would not miss it.

In 2016 when I first signed on, I was nervous to ask for donations and also about meeting the team. I found that it was such a welcoming group and such a positive experience. One of the real benefits and surprises for me was how enjoyable the fundraising was, because it’s an opportunity to reach out and talk to people. Yes, you’re asking them for money, but more importantly, you’re telling them this story and getting people to recognize and think about how important Textless Live More is. You give them the opportunity to be involved and understand more about the issues. 

This ride helps me keep Merritt and her legacy central in my life. It is also an opportunity to be part of a great team that has a shared purpose to educate others about the dangers of distracted driving. And, of course, it’s a beautiful bike ride, a great day and fun to be outside celebrating what you’ve accomplished with others. I encourage you to join us!

To join Team TLLM and ride, either virtually or in Boston, on September 21st, click here.

To donate to Jonathan’s ride, click here.

Jonathan Igoe (Left), celebrating Post Rodman with “The Overland Riders” – Team TextLess Live More 2018