Safe Journeys Bret….Until We Catch Up

“Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.”            – Mahatma Gandhi

Dear family, friends, and all who have been following the adventure,

It is with great sadness that we report that Bret’s journey has taken a new direction. He moved on yesterday morning with Shannon and the rest of the family at his side, at Strong Memorial Hospital, where he had been on inpatient hospice for the past week.

Bret fought like crazy to keep traveling and experiencing new things for as long as he could, but complications of his disease left him bed-bound for the last few months. He continued to talk about getting back on the road as recently as last week even though cancer continued its assault, making him weaker and causing more pain with each passing day. He fought for us to the end.

We’ve been trying to come to grips with what has been happening to Bret for many months, but this was still a difficult day. It’s hard to make sense of how this could happen to someone so vital.  As Bret said, it’s about the journey… not the destination. Bret’s life was a great journey full of adventure as well as generous lessons for the rest of us to follow. For Bret and for ourselves, we’ll be doing our best to “ride in a good direction” and treat every day as our best.

Over the last few months, when he was too ill to get out of bed, Bret was consumed by documentary videos and discussion about all sorts of world problems. He was passionate about so many issues….political deadlock, environmental sustainability, the need for a simpler life. Being around Bret made us want to be more.  He made us all want to “ride in a good direction” and “make today our best day.”

Thank you so much to everyone who sent comments, emails, prayers, and positive thoughts, as well as those who just stopped by. Bret checked his email and the site frequently. It meant a lot to him as well as us to see that his story was heard and made a difference to people.

With our sincerest appreciation,

The Hoefen Family


About bhoefen

Going on a road trip.
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32 Responses to Safe Journeys Bret….Until We Catch Up

  1. Tracie says:


  2. ginger johannes says:

    My Heart is breaking… Godspeed

  3. elise says:

    thinking of you all!

  4. Valerie Frischmann says:

    I will never forget Bret He lived next door to me and I could not have nicer neighbors than Bret and Shannon. Bret had such a kind ,warm, and enthusiastic persona. I will never forget his spirit and zest for life. His travel adventures with Shannon and his family and friends were inspiring to read . What wonderful memories for all of them ! I will miss him but believe Bret is in a beautiful place without pain . I would like to send my love , prayers and condolences to Shannon , Betsy, and the rest if his family .

  5. Bob & Nanette Cownie says:

    We cannot begin to comprehend the depth of your loss, but we share in your belief that Bret is now in a beautiful place without pain. We hope you know what a profound impact Bret has had on our lives….and the lives of our Chelsea and Christopher. In honor of Bret’s spirit, we are committed to making “today our best day” and to continue on a ride that would make Bret smile.
    Sending our love & prayers….God Bless, Nanette & Bob

  6. Deanne Knapp says:

    RIP Brett.
    To the Hoefen Family; Our thoughts and prayers are with all of you. May all the times you shared with Brett console you.
    Deanne, Dianne and Darren Knapp

  7. John and Linda Ann Ventura says:

    Dear Hoefen family,
    We realize the pain we feel in our hearts must pale in comparison to yours. We do know that Bret’s story, and now his passing, will teach us about how to more fully live our lives. Bret’s and your courage has truly been an inspiration to us. We cry with you.
    John and Linda Ann Ventura

  8. Chrissy Kid says:

    My condolonces to Shan and all the Hoefens.

  9. Denise Bartalo says:

    Having the opportunity to share in this young man’s remarkable journey has been so very touching. You all have shown us how the power of a loving family can transcend even death. You all have created the most beautiful memories which are a true monument to Bret’s life. He truly has left his mark…and will long be remembered by all of us. Thank you for allowing us to share this with you. Bret lives in all of your hearts.

  10. chester Gabriel says:

    Dear Hoefen family,
    Hi I am a friend of chrissy kid
    My heart is heavy as I know grief. There are no words that are right.
    I understand.
    Chester from Florida
    Chrissy Kidd has mt email address

  11. Ray and Audrey says:

    We are saddened to learn of Bret’s passing and our thoughts and prayers are with all of you, his family. Death is so final but with Bret’s kind of spirit, we have to know this new ride is the ultimate one. God bless you all.

    Ray and Audrey

  12. Don Cotton says:

    Dearest Hoefen Family,

    I am so very, very sad for you all. I am humbled by Bret’s life, his fight and all of you. My deepest condolences.

    Bret and Shannon, you are both so inspiring and strong; despite this incredibly saddening tragedy. How many could face it as you all have?

    Shannon; you are an incredible woman and I admire your strength and your journey.
    I suspect you have much more to share with the world around you.

    Love- Don

  13. Yvonne M Sellers says:

    Dear Hoefen Family.. I am so very sorry for your loss. Bret touched so many lives. My thoughts & prayers are with you all.

  14. Jessica says:

    To the Hoefens,

    A sad, sad day… Our hearts go out to all of you.

    With all our love,
    Jessica, Joe, Abby & Jack

  15. My thoughts and prayers are with you all. Bret has taught me so much throughout his most difficult journey. Godspeed.

  16. Marissa Siciliano says:

    To the Hoefen family,
    You all have displayed what it truly means to be a family. I can remember Bret, Ryan and Aaron all hanging out skiing together. It seems that was a shining example of how they would always be there for each other. Bret expressed how thankful he was that you all took the time to create this part of the journey with him. Taking time to go on bike rides as well as long road trips turned into an impactful blog that touched what seems like a world of people. Not many people would have handled their situation in this way, but Bret and all of you really did live each day to the fullest. It rings true on his blog because he detailed only a bit of what you all did together, yet it left all of us readers waiting in anticipation for the next post and the next stop and the next part of the journey. Bret will always be remembered as this amazing person and inspiring man. He has touched my heart. You all have so many people that care about you and want to be there for you now. Thank you Bret for all your bravery and for being an example of courage and strength.
    Love to you all,

  17. (Mrs) Terry Concessi says:

    Praying for friends to comfort you,
    faith to uphold you,
    and loving memories
    to help you smile again.

    I had been checking you posts daily, hoping against the odds that a miracle had happened, I feel I know all of you. My thoughts and prayers are with you and also with Brets other CCS friends and families.
    My heart is heavy with sadness today. I will remember Bret and his wonderful journey for a long time to come!
    Terry Concessi (Grosse Ile, Michigan)

  18. Kristen Palmer says:

    Dear Betsy & Jim,
    My heart goes out to you and all the Hoefen family. May the love of family and your many friends help you through this difficult time. Bret, an amazing young man you raised, we are sorry he was taken so young. God has plans for him. Thank you for sharing Bret’s journal.
    Peace be with you,
    Kris Palmer

  19. christine arnone says:

    lots of love and peace coming your way from me. a frequent reader of the blog – came to it because i saw the article in the D&C about Bret and was especially interested because of the motorcycle. i will think of Bret and all of you whenever i ride. i hope he is riding somewhere, pain free, in the next journey.
    strength, peace and love to all of you.
    christine arnone

  20. Lee Rochino says:

    To Mrs. Hoefen & Family:

    I knew Brett a short time, just before I retired at Ginna and had been impressed by his demeanor, friendliness, optimism and passion for life. I was not wrong because these showed in what he left us for inspiration. In time like this, I always think of a famous quote from a philosopher, Teilhard de Chardin, “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, but rather spiritual beings having a material existence”.

    Our deepest condolences,
    Lee & Merian Rochino

  21. Dear Betsy, Jim and Shannon,
    I never had the honor of meeting Bret. I knew of his battle through Betsy and have been following his story for the past year. From the first day that i started reading his blog i have been absolutely amazed at the strength of character and beauty that is so obvious in this family and especially in Bret. The love and support that you have shown and lived with Bret is a miracle to witness. Words will never convey the loss that the world has suffered from losing such an amazing person – my heart breaks at the loss that you, his family, have suffered. Know that thousands of people are thinking of you in this difficult time.
    My thoughts and prayers are with you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing your incredible and inspiring story with the world
    My deepest condolences for your loss,
    Danielle Lewis

  22. Claire Stein says:

    To Shannon – you and Bret have been an inspiration to me. I started following your blog in February – thank you for sharing your stories! May your memories be a sense of comfort.
    Claire Stein

  23. Nicholas Radell says:

    Dear Bret,
    I miss you man. Ill meet you on a trail someday but till then stay out of trouble. Love You Bret. Thanks for being who you were.

  24. Maria says:

    Many thanks to Bret for sharing the story of his beautiful (and far too short) life on this blog. It has helped me to live better. My deepest sympathies to all of you.

  25. Jack and Anita Sheehan says:

    Our hearts are heavy with sorrow for you. Thank you all, and especially you Bret, for sharing the gift of your life with us. We’re better people for knowing you through this blog.

  26. Terry Goldsmith says:

    I did not know Brett, yet…I have no sorrow! I have no words! I am not saddened…and neither should others…its obvious that he lived his life to the full…but …he left a great deal of love for his fellow Man and to his family…his life sent a message to others…he lived his life as it should be lived; with concern for others…he left his footprint on this earth…he lived his life with a purpose…he was a fighter….he never quit I am sure…his life showed that he was not a quitter! Celebrate His Life! He would not want you to mourn…continue to live as he would want you to live…with courage; for that was how he lived! Signed With love to all! Terry Goldsmith. Cancer Survivor. 1984/5. PS. FYI…I also lost my son 2008. Sargeant: British Army. (Not to Cancer)…I still celebrate his life! God Bless!

  27. Nanette Hance says:

    To the Hoefen family … I know that Brett would have been so proud as you continued, with heavy hearts, to stand tall and together at his calling hours. I hope that you take comfort in the many special moments you shared throughout his life and in knowing that you, as a family, supported and stood by Brett during his darkest hours. May you find both peace and joy in your fondest memories as you celebrate his life … a life so well-lived. Please know that you continue to be in my thoughts and prayers each, and every, day. Each of you held a special place in Bret’s life, as did he in yours. Respectfully, Nan

  28. Angela VanDeWalle says:

    I did not know you, and you did not know me… But you were in my prayers each and every time I rode by your house…I will continue to send you warm and healing thoughts for your unimaginable loss… Peace be with you.. Angela VanDeWalle

  29. Brianne says:

    I know a song by Tim McGraw, you may have heard it, but It reminds me of Bret, and the journey he took. I hope Betsy,Jim, Shannon and the rest of his family and friends will hear this song and think of Bret too. I have quoted a verse below:
    He said: “I was in my early forties,
    “With a lot of life before me,
    “An’ a moment came that stopped me on a dime.
    “I spent most of the next days,
    “Looking at the x-rays,
    “An’ talking ’bout the options an’ talkin’ ‘bout sweet time.”
    I asked him when it sank in,
    That this might really be the real end?
    How’s it hit you when you get that kind of news?
    Man whatcha do?

    An’ he said: “I went sky diving, I went rocky mountain climbing,
    “I went two point seven seconds on a bull named Fu Man Chu.
    “And I loved deeper and I spoke sweeter,
    “And I gave forgiveness I’d been denying.”
    An’ he said: “Some day, I hope you get the chance,
    “To live like you were dyin’.”

  30. Jorge Luis Gonzales says:

    I happened to stumble into this blog, and ended up reading everyone of Bret´s blogs. Every word that was written by Bret was filled with joy for life, dreams of a better future and lot´s of love. Today in 2013, some stranger such as myself was moved by Bret´s story. Just want to congratulate you and have such a great son/husband/uncle/cousing/friend/co-worker/neighbor such as Bret. I will carry with his memory and joy of life. I am from South America… but like Bret and Shannon, I lived in Rochester for many years (undergradute studies). Coincidently, my favorite dish is the Huancaina, which is made on a daily basis in my country, Peru (incidently where Bret´s sister in law is from).
    I am so glad I stumbled into this blog. I wish the family all the best in their lives and hope that they carry on Bret´s hunger for life.
    Wish you all the best…. keep enjoying heaven Bret.

    Jorge Luis Gonzales
    Lima, Peru, South America

  31. Sally says:

    I revisited this blog today, the second anniversary of Bret’s “moving day”. There are no words…..just gratitude for being allowed to be a very small part of the journey. Thank you Hoefen family and thank you Bret, for inspiring so many!

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