Over the weekend, I attended gatherings that brought home the importance of the Great Cycle Challenge, which this fall has so far raised over $10.7 million for kids’ cancer research.
The friends and classmates of our youth go out into the world, meet new people, make new friends and acquaintances, hear new stories, and are touched by new realities. You realize even more that cancer touches us all, and the statistics that are shared, the stats that break your heart when you hear them, such as 38 children a week die of cancer, is real. It’s a big ol’ world, but there is no immunity from cancer if your number is called.
Simple questions and subsequent conversations from some of those who supported me hit home. The cause is real, the need is great. When I’m getting my miles, I often think of those on my list I ride for: my sister Kelly Spradling Simmons, my colleagues and close friends Jody Jividen and Mike Cherry. More recent, my guitar mentor and friend Loren Claypool, my classmate and friend Kelli Hill Kukura, and finally, fellow author and friend, fellow Sheriff’s Camp counselor (along with Kelly and Loren) Judy Koontz Belcher. Afflicted children, no. But all taken too early.
I have to thank those who supported me, some new but most repeating their gracious giving and all greatly appreciated: two anonymous donors; Jane Weiford Sneed; Tammy Lacy; Sue and Walt Hall; Beth Hinckley-Robles; Barry and Beth Thaxton; Cindy Shope-Strock; Alan Kees; Carla Slack VanWyck; Karen Fulmer Cebular; Kim and Jason Rogers; Kerri and David Call; Emma and Matt Hindman; Tom Neal; Tom Sauvageot; Robin and David Young; Art Postlethwait; Barbara and Rodney Holley; Bud Newbrough; Barbara Farry; Hollis Claypool; Ann King; Becky and Jim Goodwin; April and Jay Kemplin; Heather McCoy; Janie Kerrigan; Brad Parish; Steve Vorholt; John Carroll; Carrie McCormick; Kristen Bowles; Pam Billups; Aaron Johnson; Lisa Parsons Lawson; Cheryl McLane; Dana Hitz; Danielle Sterzenback; Danny Allen; and the folks, Ruth and Alan Spradling.
This year my old friend and basketball buddy Scott Vincent reached out to me to start a multi-state team as he lives in Tarpon Springs, Fla. His sister and neighbor, Sharlene Muscati also joined, and the three of us together raised $5,406.29, which was second in the USA in the category of schools, and 138th overall in teams. Thanks to our contributing community, on “match day” our team, Dragons Slaying Cancer, had $1,007.94 matched. We also surpassed our riding goal, logging 1,032.3 miles.
I certainly felt mortal at the start of my ride. My 500-mile goal was the lowest in four years of riding the GCC because I’m now a proud employee of the Coal River Group, so I knew there were days I wouldn’t ride. Thanks to Larry Ellis for again pushing me into some outings. Add in a Labor Day weekend Covid derailment, followed by a crash thanks to muddy roads, I was limping out of the gate with cracked ribs and a shoulder issue that is ongoing. I am thankful to say I made my goal after a few borrowed October days, and the giving was beyond gracious $3,104.64, taking me to the No. 1 fundraiser in West Virginia for now – the books stay open another month. I’m so humbled and appreciative that so many support this cause! Thank you sincerely and God Bless You!