My RAGBRAI Team LIVESTRONG Fundraising Page

Thursday, August 9, 2012

RAGBRAI D5: Jack & Drew

Admittedly, this post is out of order.  But that's because this is the most important post.  So, here it is.

Today (D5 -Th, 7/26) was about Drew and Jack.  These two young men are incredibly inspiring with their resilience, their resolve, their humor, their spirit, their aliveness.  While fighting cancer.
The morning began like most in camp - finding a back tag and dedicating the day's ride. This was my backtag for July 26. 
For the ride, we started in Marshalltown and ended almost 85 miles later in Cedar Rapids.  Unless you rode the Karras Loop, this was the longest day of the ride this year.  Passing through Garwin, Clutier, Garrison, Vinton, and Shellsburg, the day's ride was "nice" compared to the first four days of the week.  A storm blew through Marshalltown the night before and temps dropped out of the high 90s and l00s and peaked at 89 for the day.
Another RAGBRAI pass-thru town invaded by tens of thousands of cyclists.
For breakfast today, about two hours into the day I stopped in Clutier.  There I found the Iowa Pork Council had set up shop with a grill and were selling barbecued ribs slathered in sauce.
YUMBO!!! Breakfast of Champions!
But today wasn't about the miles.  Or the stops.  Or the food.  Today was about Jack and Drew.  Two young men, courageously, inspirationally, and tenaciously fighting cancer.

Today's ride ended in Cedar Rapids, home to Jack's family.  Jack's dad, Marty, has ridden with the team for several years.  And when the route was announced with an overnight in their town, Marty told his wife that he wanted to host the team for the night.  Jen agreed - with the caveat that she was not going be anywhere near!  It was incredibly generous of Jack's family to make their home available for the team.  In addition, they prepared an awesome meal for us this evening.  Marty also arranged for the team to shuttle from his house to the Catholic HS in town.  The school agreed to make their locker rooms available to Team LIVESTRONG.  It was glorious! No rush, no lines, no crowds, no shower trucks!  And that night, Marty set up a bus to take us downtown to the main RAGBRAI party and Counting Crows concert. 

I'm not sure I can sufficiently describe Marty's, et al, generosity and hospitality nor adequately express my gratitude. Except to simply say "Thank You!". And I look forward to riding with you Marty in future RAGBRAIs.

Unfortunately, Marty was not able to join us on the ride this year.  Jack, had had some complications, including near continuous seizures.  Just prior to the start of the ride, Jack underwent brain surgery to end the seizures.  He was in recovery while we were camping in his family's yard.

To get to know Jack, see this video:  You can also follow Jack's progress via this blog maintained by Marty and Jen (Jack's mom).  If you want to be inspired by a true fighter, get to know Jack.

After dinner, during our team meeting, we had the opportunity to hear from Marty.  He shared Jack's story and the family's story.  LIVESTRONG has been an important part of their fight.  Hearing their story was inspirational and affirming.
Jack's Dad (and our generous host) sharing the family's story.
After Marty spoke, we got to hear from Drew.  Drew just finished his freshman year of high school with a 4.0+ GPA (weighted grading) and was spending his summer taking summer school and working to get ahead in school so that he wouldn't fall behind when it came time for treatments.  And unfortunately, those treatments would be restarting soon.  The day before, Drew was diagnosed with a new metastasized lump. 

When Drew was first diagnosed, he was given two surgical treatment options - 1) remove the lump and with it have to replace the bone with a cadaver bone or 2) amputate the leg.  Drew made a decision that he wanted to live life to the fullest.  For him that meant option 2.  He golfs, plays basketball, and (yes!) rides a bike.  A cadaver bone would be too brittle to allow him to be engaged in the activities he wanted to participate in.
Drew had all of our attention.  Eloquent and articulate young man.
In addition to being an active teenager, Drew is also an engaged community member.  He testified before the state legislature in support of a bill that would require insurers to cover the full cost of prosthetics.  He was invited to stand behind the governor when the bill was signed into law.
Drew passed his leg around we could look at it.  This is Tina examining it, and Matt next to her.
Finally, to cap an emotional evening, we had a birthday cake to celebrate what would have been the 18th birthday of the daughter of one our teammates, Tina.  It was a celebration of the all to brief life that Katie had lived.
We also celebrated Tina's daughter's 18th birthday. It sucks that Katie wasn't here to celebrate it. (#EffCancer!)
More than any other team meeting or any other day, July 26 really reaffirmed why I support LIVESTRONG.  It's not about the ride. Or the yellow bracelets.  Or me.  Or even Lance.  It's about the 28 million Jacks, Drews, and Katie's out there.  It's about developing and providing the resources that the Lance Armstrong Foundation shares with cancer patients and their support teams.  If you want to donate to LIVESTRONG, you still can over on my fundraising page here.


  1. Really a beautiful post, Bob. Brought tears to my eyes. Sometimes we get wrapped up in our own lives (and I'm speaking for myself) and fail to forget that there are people in this world who know what a REAL struggle life can be. Thank you for sharing the stories of these three young people, and thank you for being part of such a good cause.

    1. Thank you, Krissy! It's easy to be part of the cause and to support the organization when you see and meet people that it supports. Just as it's easy to support the Alzheimers Ass'n.

  2. Thank you Bob for reminding all of us that it is the courageous Jacks and Drews and Katies that we honor and celebrate. What a perfect, heartfelt narrative that you wrote - you captured the spirit of RAGBRAI and the hopes and fight of LIVESTRONG - love it!

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, Lisa. I'm glad you liked my writing. RAGBRAI itself has a way of inspiring the creativity. LIVESTRONG gives it a foundation, meaning and purpose. Proud to be part of the team.

  3. Thank you for your eloquence and candor. You have really captured the essence of why it's so important for everyone to get involved. In whatever way you can... get involved!

    1. THANK YOU, Wendy! Was great to be on the team with you. And congrats again on your wedding!