Cancer Treatment Costs Inspire Fundraising Journey
Steve Alexander revved the engine of his Harley-Davidson motorcycle and, with a final wave to his family and supporters gathered outside of Cleveland Clinic, began a 6,000-mile ride throughout the eastern United States.
But this trek is more than a joy ride: His goal is to raise $20,000 to help cancer patients pay for treatment costs not covered by insurance.
"Chemotherapy itself is very expensive," Mr. Alexander says. "Then there are out-of-pocket costs during treatment that many people don’t think about: things like travel, parking, food and lodging. Even insurance and medication co-pays can be costly."
Margie and Steve Alexander
Mr. Alexander knows firsthand about the ancillary costs of cancer treatment. In January 2012, he was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, an incurable blood cancer. His response to chemo and a stem cell transplant has been good, and the cancer is currently inactive, although he’s still receiving chemotherapy.
"During the course of my treatment at Cleveland Clinic, I started looking at the bills that insurance was paying," the former YMCA executive says. "I thought, ‘What if we couldn’t make the co-payments? My wife and I would lose everything we’d worked for.’ After talking with other patients, it was clear that it was a struggle for many of them to meet these costs. I started to think about what I could do to help others pay for some of these additional expenses."
A longtime Harley enthusiast, Mr. Alexander decided to plan a route and coordinate fundraising stops along the way. It took him nearly eight months to map out the route and line up sponsors and events. He then created a personal fundraising page on Cleveland Clinic’s website and began preparing for his trip.
A Long Ride Ahead
He left Ohio on July 6, escorted from Cleveland Clinic’s main campus by a cadre of Cleveland Clinic police officers. He first headed to Indiana, then Illinois, then down through Missouri, Arkansas and Louisiana. In the midst of all this, he flew back to Ohio for a chemo treatment. After that, he rode east through Alabama and Florida. Next, he’ll head north all the way up to Maine. Then it’s on to Vermont, New York, two days in Canada, Michigan, Illinois again and, finally, back to Ohio.
Along the way, he’ll be joined by other bikers and motorcycle clubs, escorted across state lines by state police on motorcycles and attend various fundraisers, including a hog roast in Hot Springs, Ark., and an ice cream social in Alexandria, La. The final leg of the trip will find him in his hometown of Cortland, Ohio. There, he will reunite with Margie, his wife of 41 years, and celebrate with a bowling party and a final push to raise funds.
He expects the trip to take about five weeks, depending on weather.
A Ride For a Purpose
"I’m not worried about making the trip except for the traffic in the New England area. I feel emotionally ready, and I hope my stamina holds up," he says.
Mr. Alexander has spent about $1,500 planning the trip, and he estimates that his fuel will cost about $800.
"One hundred percent of the money I raise on this trip goes to help pay for the treatment costs and ancillary expenses of cancer patients," he says. "I’m going to be extremely disappointed if I don’t exceed my goal."