As hard as it is to fathom, the 2012 Ride From Reno is over. Done. Complete. Finished. And I’m ready to do it all again. Not only is the cause this ride supports one of the most meaningful that can be undertaken, but the people I rode with have become, if they weren’t already, lifelong friends. In fact, I’d do anything for this amazing group of friends.
When people learn I spend a week riding a bicycle 667-miles from Reno, Nevada, to the steps of Huntsman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake City they’re generally a little suspicious of me. After all, what whole and sane person would attempt such a ridiculous thing? To make matters even more questionable, who in their right mind would do it 11 times. To put it into context, factoring in drive time, driving distance, ride time, riding distance, prep time in Reno, etc., I’ve invested 88 vacation days, at least 14,000 miles on my cars, and 7,337 miles on my bike, just doing this ride over the years. Total out-of-pocket expense over the past 11-years = >$50,000. And I can’t wait to do it again in 2013.
When we did that first Ride From Reno in 2002, it was me on the bike and Janet and Josh driving support. We raised ~$7,000 in that first year. To be crystal clear, it’s never been about the bike ride; it’s always been about the money! How much could we raise for the mission of HCI to “understand cancer from its beginnings, to use that knowledge in the creation and improvement of cancer treatments, to relieve the suffering of cancer patients, and to provide education about cancer risk, prevention, and care?”
Since I first walked into HCI in January of 2001 I’ve been in awe of the place. It is an island of hope and tranquillity in a world turned upside down for those enduring cancer. When your doctor first uses those subdued tones to tell you, “I’m sorry to have to tell you, you have cancer,” you don’t know what to think. Your mind goes into slow motion and you feel as though you’re in a dense fog. Nothing seems real, yet you know you’re awake and not dreaming. You instinctively think about all the people you’ve heard of who have died of cancer and wonder how long you have to live? My diagnosis was for Stage IV squamous cell and I felt all the things I just described. Yet, once I walked into Huntsman Cancer Institute and began treatment with Dr. Gordon Watson, I somehow knew there was hope and I was going to be OK. In spite of the statistics which were, unbelievably, a 0 to 25% chance of surviving 5-years. And that’s what HCI is all about . . . hope. And why it’s so easy to become engaged in raising funds to help others who will go through what I went through. And what others on this year’s ride are going through now.
You see, some of those who rode from Reno this year are in the midst of battling cancer themselves. I know it’s hard to believe but, some of those who were able to average 127-miles each day during this year’s Ride From Reno are going through their own internal battles with cancer. And others who were with us have already beaten this damnable disease into submission. I hope that knowledge gives you a little insight into the caliber of people I was blessed to spend the week with.
The 2012 Ride From Reno was an experience I’ll never forget. I rode with some of the finest people on earth. I have been honored to ride from Reno this year with Jason Bleak, Ravell Call, Todd Handy, Steve Kelly, Larry Peterson, Joe Plater, Zo Roundy, Dan Sellers, Darcie Strong, and Scott Westfall, and to call each of them friends. They are the kind of people for whom honor and integrity are a way of life. Friends in every respect . . . . the kind of friendships that last forever. Each of our riders had support drivers along the way: my Dad; Holly Kelly; Denise Martinsen; Marian Sellers; Kelly Roundy (along with Alisa and Max); Chandler Bleak; Sarah Westfall; and, JoAnn Handy. Those of us who rode from Reno couldn’t have done it without our wonderful support crews; they were our cheerleaders, our protectors, and our lifelines. Also people of honor and integrity and people with whom I’ve forged lifelong friendships.
On Saturday, June 16th, we were joined in Delta, Utah, by >100 additional riders and by the time we arrived at Huntsman Cancer Institute our numbers had swollen to ~275. What started 11-years ago as this little Ride From Reno has, through the commitment and passion of many others, grown into a major event raising money to battle this &%@#$^* disease and, once and for all, drive a stake through it’s dark, miserable, unfeeling heart.
This year we raised >$140,000 for cancer research at Huntsman Cancer Institute . . . . a 167% increase over what we raised in 2011! With the support of Miche Bag, Harland Clarke, Bountiful Mazda, D. Dahle Mazda, The New Car Dealers of Utah, Epic Brewing, KSL TV, Nate Wade Subaru, School of Rock, Smiles for Life, DNA Cycling, Johnny Kolache’s, Reason2Ride, Utah Pork Producers, Macy’s, Bountiful Bike, and many, many other wonderful supporters we’ve made a difference in the battle against cancer. It is my hope and expectation the we will raise ~$300,000 in 2013 and have ~500 riders participate. We’re doing our part in fighting cancer and, together, we do make a difference.
Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts.
With much love,
Jeff, Janet, and Josh