Cyclist pedals for a curePublished 10:00am Friday, July 12, 2013
A pair of Virginia Tech students wanted to do something with the last summer they would have off.
For many, that might mean going to a foreign country or just relaxing for the last time, but 20-year-olds Patrick Acker of Richmond and Morgan Bissell of Ocean City, Md., set their sights on the whole continent to raise money for cancer.
This past October, Acker and his friends decided that they would cycle from San Francisco to Virginia Beach. On Wednesday he came through Franklin.
“Two years ago, my grandmother was diagnosed with lung cancer, and I was inspired by that,” Acker said. “I had never known anyone to get cancer before, and for it to be someone I love dearly, it hit home to me.”
Acker said he hopes his journey not only provides financial aid, but that it also inspires.
“I hope people see what we are going through, cycling through the desert in 130 degrees of heat, going through mountains, through rain, riding through roads in terrible condition, that it helps someone out there continue the fight,” Acker said. “Unfortunately, my grandmother passed away in December, but hopefully someone reading can be inspired by this to keep battling.”
Financial aid is a big part of it, too. Half of the proceeds will go to Cindy’s Hope Chest, which is a non-profit in Indian Trail, N.C., which supports women battling breast cancer, and the other half will go to The American Cancer society.
When he and Bissell came through Franklin, they were on day 43 of their 44-day journey. The duo had raised approximately $11,000 of a $20,000 goal, and has come approximately 3,300 miles. In San Francisco, he dipped the back tire of his bike in the Pacific Ocean, and when he reaches Virginia Beach, which will be on Thursday, he will dip his front tire in the Atlantic Ocean.
Bissell, along with a slew of other supporters, drives the truck that carries the camper. He also runs the logistics in preparing the route.
“When I was younger, I lost a friend to leukemia, so when Patrick approached me about riding across the country for cancer, I was all for it,” he said.
Along the way, the duo has made stops at several children’s hospitals donating bicycles, including St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., and Children’s Hospital Central California in Fresno, Calif. It was in Fresno where Acker’s favorite part of the journey happened.
“I met this kid named Daniel,” Acker said. “Just seeing his smile when we gave him a bike, I knew then that we were making a difference in these kids’ lives.”
For more information on their journey or to donate, visit www.cycling4acure.org.