On a sunny day in California two years ago, our Director of Engineering, Mario Grimani, sat down for a lunch interview with a promising graphics engineer whom a number of us had worked with in the past: a fellow named Adam Hunter.
What made this interview unusual was that Adam wasn’t dressed in a suit and tie, or in jeans and a collared shirt. If memory serves, he opted for compression shorts and a bright orange and blue jersey. This is because Adam was, even as he interviewed, taking part in a West Coast charity bike tour from Northern Oregon to Southern California to support Multiple Sclerosis (MS) research.
Adam nailed the interview, joined our merry band of adventurers and, two years later, is both a key member of the E7 team and once again back in the saddle, riding to support a charity he believes in. As a company that aspires to support causes important to us, we’re proud of the work that Adam is doing and we want to share his story with our community.
“This morning, 21 otherwise intelligent adults chose to get up in the rain, in Old Forge, New York, take down their tents in the rain, and then ride 84 miles…in the rain,” Adam said with a laugh. “And we even paid money to do this because of Multiple Sclerosis and our love of cycling.”
Adam is biking with Bike the US for MS, a charity founded in 2007 by Don Fraser, whose mother has battled MS for over 30 years.
“Don was looking for something he could do, decided to just do it, and ended up doing it all the way across the country,” Adam explained, Skyping in from a general store in upstate New York. “It turned into a fund-raising thing [and] ballooned into what it is now. It’s not a huge organization, which is what I like. It’s not affiliated with the larger society. It’s a smaller charity, super focused on raising money for MS research.”
“They run five routes now. Northern Tier, Trans Am, Southern Tier, West Coast, and a ride in England. Each rider has to raise 1 dollar for every mile they ride – we’re raising $4,300 dollars per rider on our current ride to go from Bar Harbor, Maine to Fargo, North Dakota.”
“We do service projects on our days off – we go to peoples’ houses and help clean the yard or paint the house,” he told us over a bowl of cereal and spotty internet. “One of the hard things about MS is that over time you lose the ability to do little things – change lightbulbs, little things here or there. So people really appreciate the work we do along the way.”
“I’m genuinely grateful to have a job where this is something I can do. The saying goes ‘The hardest part is showing up on the first day,” Adam continued.
“It’s fun showing people our stuff on the road. One of the things that’s neat is that it’s a cross-section of humanity: people who work in tech, people not interested in tech, people who would probably not buy our products otherwise. It pretty much universally blows people’s minds.”
“VR is going to be pretty important for diseases like MS. Studies show that using your brain in relation to moving your body speeds recovery. They are working on a cure…and making progress. So, staying as active as possible helps slow progress of the disease,” he told us. “For folks who can’t be cured, VR helps them do things they can’t do anymore.”
We wrap up the call with Adam as his team is getting ready to hit the road. As we wished him luck, he told us one more anecdote.
“I think what I’m doing at this general store pretty much summarizes the experience of this cross-country ride. My toes are frozen from wet riding and I just wanted a dry pair of socks. There’s only one general store and I try to buy socks there. No adult socks. Only kids’ toe socks – the ones where each toe gets its own compartment,” he said, with hearty laugh. “The best part about the socks is that they’re not only tiny, but they have little hearts on them. Now I’m ready to ride.”
“Life is weird out here. It’s super strange. It’s a break from the normal. Normal life is good, but life is weird out here. We meet all kinds of interesting people and see all kinds of interesting things in support of a great cause. So here I am in Old Forge, New York. Everything I own is covered in dirt, and this is what I do for fun now. It’s pretty great.”
“You have to be a certain kind of person,” he admitted before the connection dropped, “…but if you are this kind of person, this is your thing.”
As a company, we couldn’t be prouder of Adam and his awesome red socks with little hearts on them. We strive to be a company that gives our employees flexibility in schedule and work environment (though we’d probably suggest starting with something a little drier) and we look forward to our team members continuing to make meaningful contributions to important causes during their time with us.