MODESTO — Sponsors called it the ninth annual Ride to Cure Cancer. But just surviving the deadly disease was good enough for many bicyclists Sunday.
This helps you heal, said Angie Gohn, 47, of Oakdale at the end of a 25-mile roll under blue skies east of Modesto.
Last year, Gohn was one year into breast cancer treatment and did not feel like climbing onto a bicycle. By June, she felt strong enough to join a bicycling therapy group for cancer survivors and supporters and began training for Sundays ride, another step to regain normal life.
Healing Journey, affiliated with Memorial Hospital Foundation, offers an array of activities aimed at helping patients build strength and confidence, such as Pilates, yoga, water aerobics, walking, cycling and weight training. Gohn takes advantage of the groups art and writing classes, and Healing Journey also offers photography, music and gardening.
Everyone supports you, said Jim Scott, 63, of Modesto, a prostate cancer survivor who trains with 20 or so Healing Journey participants on weekly rides of about 20 miles. When youre having problems, people are helping you out.
Everyone cheers each other on, agreed Lynette Scott, his principal cheerleader, fellow bike rider and wife of 40 years.
The nonprofit organization relies on help from Memorial Medical Center, donations and fundraisers such as Sundays ride, sponsored since its inception by McHenry Villages Fun Sport Bikes. The shops Brian Zahra said the event has raised more than $40,000 for Healing Journey, the last couple having pulled in about $10,000 each with help from dozens of good-hearted volunteers staffing rest stations and the sag wagon, a van that picks up any riders who break down or get too tired.
Its a major (financial) shot in the arm, said Cheryl Casey, community outreach coordinator for Memorials cancer services.
Many of Sundays 200 riders were hard-core bicyclists who were happy to help a worthy mission.
Good cause, good training and good food they always take care of us, said Givo Betoshana, 41, of Ripon. He rides with Turlocks Bell Real Estate Cycling and pedaled Sundays 75-mile course option with about 20 friends belonging to various clubs, some in the Bay Area.
Kris Toca, 57, of Modesto rides solo because her FedEx job keeps her busy Saturdays, when many clubs have excursions. She missed last years Ride to Cure Cancer because of broken ribs from a training collision with a car and was thrilled to be back for Sundays near-perfect weather.
Sundays ride was Gohns first, but she said it wont be her last. Her cancer is still too real, she said, to move beyond Healing Journey, which helped her cope with the ugliness of chemotherapy and make sense of a senseless disease that kills about 1,600 Americans each day, accounting for nearly 1 in every 4 deaths.
There was no cancer in my family, Gohn said, so they didnt know what to expect and how to support. Healing Journey provides inspiration, she said; and now that shes clean of cancer, Healing Journey gives her a way to help others, which in turn gives her more strength.
Its a long journey, Jim Scott agreed. Lynette Scott added, The importance of a team is keeping you consistent.
Bee staff writer Garth Stapley can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2390.