I am about to embark on an epic bicycling tour across the state of Colorado. I usually ride one-third of what the Tour de France riders do. This year, I decided to ride half of what the pros ride -- 1,074 miles -- to raise money for my friend who, at the age of 19, passed away from brain cancer. It's not just her that I am riding for. This disease has had an impact on my heart.
A few years ago, a young woman named Kayla went zipping by my house on an orange cruiser bike. "Nice bike!" I yelled, and she immediately turned around and started a conversation. She talked about how she had cancer but was cured. She was so honest; her spirit left a mark.
Through that chance meeting, I got to know her and her family. I got to be a part of her WHOLE family. The family that chose me. That meeting changed my life.
Just a few short months later, the cancer came back with a vengeance and this time the cancer won. I saw firsthand how hard this family worked to stay together, and now I have the chance to help another family in need.
On October 21, 2017, my birthday, another young woman I know, Julietta, had a seizure and was later diagnosed with brain cancer. I decided that I was going to do something to help my friend and her family with their astronomical medical bills, by using my tour to raise money. I am hoping to raise $1 for every mile I ride: $1,074. But any amount will help with her recovery.
Beads of Courage are being carried on my bike and proud to have my beads on Lolo Deux -- my bike’s name -- Lolo means crazy in Hawaiian. My Beeds of Courage have been on my bike for every mile of training, over 2,000 miles in all. We have been over Trail Ridge Road, the highest continuous road in the continental United States. We have been over Vail Pass -- both sides -- and survived almost being creamed by a driver not paying attention. We have been on the prairie, through wind, snow, rain, lightning, hail and sunshine. We have fallen a few times, and we have gotten back up.
On days when I am struggling in the saddle, I think of my friend and her struggle with cancer. My pain is bearable, for it is only temporary, a weakness leaving my body. Her struggle was constant, and yet she managed to lift others up.
Here’s to you, Julietta, and your wonderful spirit. I ride for life.