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by Craig Juntunen

After a weekend at home, and the positive vibe of the standing room only crowd in Scottsdale, we get back on the bus and head to San Diego. The core energy of the tour is family, and while we all press on tonight to defend the right of a child to belong in a family, tonight is a very sad night for me.

Juntunen Kids

From day one of the tour I have had our three kids with me every step of the way. It has been a privilege and a memory that as a father I will never forget. But as we head to city 18, and the wheels roll to San Diego, Amelec, Espie and Quinn will stay at home, getting ready for school, baseball practice and art class tomorrow.

The tour officially started on February 28th with our kick-off party at the Decatur House.

Lincoln MemorialHowever, for me, the tour officially started the night before. That night I took our three kids to the Lincoln Monument and then the Martin Luther King memorial. It was a cold clear night in DC, and after we had time to let the profound nature of those monuments boldly set into our consciousness, we went to dinner. While the pizza was cooking I told the kids that there was a reason we had visited those two significant monuments. The purpose was to show them that things that are wrong can be made right, and to put this tour and what we were about to do into some context.

For the first 17 cites we participated in the tour together, side by side in communities and theaters, so that in the future more children can have what we have: the unique bond and love that only a family can provide.

While it was very painful to give each of them a hug and say goodbye tonight, we all understand it was the only thing to do. The sacrifice we are making by being apart for the next 50 days is very insignificant relative to the lives of the kids who are being denied a chance to belong in a family.

And, tonight, the spirit of family does live on the bus. Our director of merchandising, Cheryl Bochner, has brought her son, Jake, with her to join us for the next three nights. Cheryl has been a remarkable leader and source of positive energy for the tour. Our merchandising program has exceeded everyone’s expectations and it is meaningful to see how many people want tour stuff.

BusWhile Cheryl has been a merchandising innovator, tonight we are creating a new program with Cheryl and her son as the guinea pigs. The tour is now offering a guest rider program on the bus for a 3-day journey to see the inside workings of the tour and really contribute to the experience that we are having in every city. To set the proper expectation, the guest rider program is a working gig where each guest rider will be managing the city volunteers and overseeing merchandise sales and other various odds and ends that the tour requires. It is hard, but good work, and the wage is only in the satisfaction of trying to make a difference.

I felt so privileged to share this great experience with our kids that I thought we should offer being on the front lines of a movement like this to other individuals or families, like Cheryl and her son. I think most of us could benefit from this unique and powerful experience. I sure did, and I think my kids would tell you the same thing.

I want to offer this unique perspective of our journey to as many individuals and parent-child combinations as we can for the duration of the tour.

Speaking on a first-hand basis, riding the bus is a lot of work, and there is not much time for sleep or rest, but it can be an opportunity of a lifetime for those who are crazy enough to enjoy swimming head-on into a heavy current. If you are fascinated and want to learn more please contact Both Ends Burning and we can see if we can find some dates that may work for both of us.

As usual, there is always something in it for me. The reality of the matter is…now that my kids are back in school, there is plenty of room on the bus and I could use the company.

Next stop San Diego, ETA 3 AM.

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