Revving Up Cancer Funds

Ride for a Purpose Revs Up Funds for Cancer Treatment Costs

“Every mile was worth it,” says Steve Alexander of his 6,000-mile ride to raise funds and awareness about the ancillary costs of cancer.

Mr. Alexander, who was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in January 2012, drove his Harley-Davidson through the Eastern United States last summer, along the way visiting YMCAs and Harley-Davidson dealerships that hosted fundraising events, being interviewed on the radio, speaking at Rotary Club luncheons and touring a cancer center in Ontario — all to help raise awareness of multiple myeloma and the unexpected costs of cancer treatment.

“There are out-of-pocket costs during treatment that many people don’t think about like travel, parking, food and lodging,” Mr. Alexander says. “Even insurance and medication co-pays can be costly.”

Supporters in every state generously made donations in person and to his personal fundraising page at Cleveland Clinic. “One-hundred percent of the money I raised on this trip went to help pay for the treatment costs and ancillary expenses of cancer patients,” Mr. Alexander says.

He left on July 6, escorted from Cleveland Clinic’s main campus by a cadre of Cleveland Clinic police officers and accompanied by his trusty companion, Bob the Bear. He flew back to Ohio once for a chemo treatment before returning home to Cortland, Ohio, on Aug. 13.

Excerpts from Mr. Alexander’s digital diary give a glimpse of his experiences and the people he met while traveling the country, sharing his purpose and raising funds and awareness:

Sent: July 08, 2013  |  10:19 AM  |  Richmond, IN

At Joe’s Pizza, a large crowd was enjoying a $5 all-you-can-eat buffet, with all of the money going to the Ride for a Purpose, along with $1 from every pint of microbrew sold. Joe's is usually closed on Sunday so the staff donated their time in addition to all of their tips from the day. I talked with several people who have, or have had, cancer and a few who also were being treated at Cleveland Clinic. I talked to the crowd about the true cost of cancer and what it means to me and all cancer patients to have the support of family and friends.

Sent: Friday, July 12, 2013  |  3:44 PM  |   Poplar Bluff, MO

I am just over 1,200 miles into the ride, and the first week has been very good in terms of contributions. As of this writing we have raised almost $3,600.

Sent: Sunday, July 14, 2013  |  5:35 PM  |  Hot Springs, AR

I want to mention Allen from Hot Springs, whose wife has breast cancer. He gave me $5 and said he wanted to contribute something to help others but that was all he could afford. His $5 makes my whole trip worth the ride.

Sent: Tuesday, July 23, 2013  |  Savannah, GA

At dinner I talked with Bobbie and Doug, whose son is undergoing treatment for a blood plasma cancer. He sounds like a remarkable young man – 15 years old and he refuses to let this stop him from doing what he wants. I am older and dealing with my cancer, but this young man is just as strong as I am.

Sent: Sunday, July 28, 2013  |  7:52 PM  |  Springfield, MA

Left Lewes [DE] early this morning to catch a ride on the ferry to Cape May, NJ. I met another couple traveling by bike, so I had good company and conversation during the crossing. The lady's first husband died from cancer, so she was fully aware of what I mean when I talk about the true cost of cancer treatment.

Sent: Saturday, August 03, 2013  |  12:05 PM  |  Greece, NY

I was getting ready to do a little sightseeing and had just put on my do-rag when this little boy, 8 or 9 years old, came over and started talking to me while his mother was loading their car. She apologized and said Amado really likes motorcycles. He asked if he could sit on my bike. After he got off, his mother told me that his father died from cancer less than a year ago so it meant a lot to him. I told her about my trip and she thanked me and gave me a hug.

I told Amado he couldn’t ride a Harley without a cool do-rag, and I gave him a clean one of mine. His mother thanked me again, gave me another hug and told me how much it meant to her and her son. You know what? It meant even more to me, and I will remember this as one the biggest highlights of the trip.

Sent: Tuesday, August 13, 2013 12:24 PM Cortland, OH

6,307 miles, 38 days, 22 states, 3 Canadian cities and numerous fundraising events. Talked with so many people there is no way I could keep count. A lot of rain and a little sunshine and even had a boat trailer back in to my bike. Was it worth it? YES, EVERY MILE!

Janice Jones couldn’t agree more. Diagnosed with breast cancer nearly a year ago, she soon was struggling to make her insurance and medication co-pays along with her rent and other bills. Her social worker at Cleveland Clinic told her about the available funds from donors like Mr. Alexander and how they could help her with the burgeoning costs of cancer treatment.

“I couldn’t have made it,” she says. “The money made it possible to deal with my illness and not be stressed about how my bills would be paid.”

Mr. Alexander’s Ride for a Purpose fund has raised more than $13,000 — and he’s hoping to soon meet his goal of $20,000.

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