Stage 1 – I ride for the one I love (Sioux Center, IA to Cherokee, IA) A few years ago the Radio Shack bicycle team did an “I Ride For…” campaign. Basically each rider dedicated a race to a current cancer survivor they knew. Last year I kinda copied them and started to dedicate a week or a hundred miles to someone I knew or became aware of who was a survivor. I ride with a little yellow flag… on the back of my bike with that person’s name on it. I road for about 10 people last year and about 10 so far this year. There is one survivor that I have been saving for a special ride. The week of RAGBRAI seems like the perfect event. Over the course of 8 days we will ride 470 miles, climb 16,000 feet, and spend 8 nights in a tent in Iowa in July. Today we did 55 miles, climbed 1,800′, and the temperature here was only 109 degrees. While I did the ride because I am a little short of a full deck , I did it all day thinking about my best friend and wife – a 24 year cancer survivor. I do all this work raising money for LiveSTRONG and riding for others and I am always surprised to remember that Jeri knows what it is like to have cancer. She NEVER says anything about it. She only tells her story when I start it or if asked by another survivor. The short version: Jeri had a lump in her neck the size of a baseball, but could not go see a Dr. because of no insurance. She had to find a job, wait 6 months, and then go to a Dr. Single Mom with two kids finds out she has cancer. No time to really be scared, she has to get better to keep her job to provide for her kids. Lucky for all of us, she did. Over the past 5 years of collecting other people’s cancer stories and songs I made my own dedication to Jeri in 2008 – “You Shook Me all Night Long” by ACDC. (I plan to sing this to her at our 50th wedding anniversary!) If I was making a dedication today for her it would absolutely be “Tough” by Craig Morgan. With the exception of getting up early, the rest of the song is Jeri. It may have been 109 degrees today but that’s nothing compared to cancer.
Jesus is a 7 year old boy who was diagnosed with adrenal cancer last June. Jeri found his story in the Holland Sentinel when his Mom and a friend were trying to raise $3,000. The insurance company would not pay for this “last-resort” solu…tion. Cancer sucks all by itself. When our “system” is this pathetic it is just sad. Hard to SHINE at times like this but I am trying. Road 125 miles in 7 hours and 17 minutes for Jesus. (Also contacting the Holland Sentinel!)