There is a quote I recently heard that seems to be sticking in my brain. Mother Angelica said, “Unless we dare to accomplish the ridiculous, God cannot accomplish the miraculous.”

I don’t know if you believe in God or not, and frankly, for the purpose of this column it doesn’t matter. What that quote says to me is this: Unless you are willing to take a risk, go out on a limb and allow people to think you’re crazy, you will never open yourself to experiencing something really amazing.

I got to see something really amazing happen this summer, and it was all because one man and his wife had a crazy idea.

Ralph Jose has been riding motorcycles since he was 16. He’s probably nearing 70, although he looks like he’s 45 (you’re welcome, Ralph). He works at the Fercho Branch YMCA in downtown Fargo, and as the Y puts it on its website:

“When he married Darlene 50 years ago, it was no question that cycling was going to be a part of their lives. It was something they truly enjoyed doing together. Ralph and his wife have been touring the U.S., Canada and even Europe, and now have one state left to go to – Alaska! So to celebrate their 50th state and their 50th anniversary, they decided to take the trip!”

Here’s where some of the “ridiculous” comes in. Those two crazy love birds decided to ride their motorcycle nearly 8,000 miles to Alaska and back. You might imagine an open road, beautiful sky and secret discoveries along the way, but over that long of a journey, road maps, rainstorms and a vibrating butt are also the reality.

But here’s where the “miraculous” comes in. Ralph and Darlene decided to celebrate their trip, their 50th state and their 50 years of marriage by inviting people to celebrate with them.

Ralph put a little table in the fitness center with a sign-up sheet. No pressure, the sign simply said if you want to make a donation to help celebrate the trip, Ralph and his wife would give the money to help kids in need attend Y programs.

Within days Ralph had three sheets filled with people pledging to give $25, $50, $100 and more. Dakota Medical Foundation offered to match those donations up to $2,500. In all, more than 100 people donated to Ralph’s Ride, totaling more than $7,000. That’s $7,000 not being used for gas, meals or lodging, but simply to give kids a chance to play Y basketball, get a membership for a whole year or go to camp.

“The stars are lining up perfectly for us,” Ralph explained. “We have been planning this trip for years.”

“I love children,” Ralph continued. “And all of the money derived from this trip (through pledges) will go straight to the Partner of Youth Campaign.”

Ralph and Darlene left on their big trip June 30 and got home Tuesday. Before they left, Ralph was telling me how he and Darlene were in awe of the kindness of people. They never imagined how full their hearts would be with the joy that comes from bringing people together to help others.

Welcome home, Ralph and Darlene, and congratulations! A ridiculously miraculous idea sounds like the perfect way to celebrate 50 years of love.

Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND, 58107.


Nicole Phillips is a former television anchor for Fox News in Fargo, and currently the Executive Director of Diva Connection Foundation. She is the mother of three kids and the wife of Bison Men’s Head Basketball Coach Saul Phillips. Her columns run every Saturday.