A group of guys pedaling across the country to raise awareness, and money to help in the fight against childhood brain cancer are taking a pit stop in Salina this week. “Team Maddie” is taking Tuesday and Wednesday off for a little rest and recovery. The guys are in the middle of a journey that will take them over 4,000 miles in about 70 days.
Aaron Polak, Joe Shaw, Mark Wilder and Morgan Shumaker started out on June 1st from Astoria, Oregon. They are determined to ride their bicycles across the country, ending their journey in Virginal Beach, Virginia in August.
The guys tell KSAL News that the ride is in memory of Shumaker’s niece Maddie, who lost her battle with cancer on December 10th, 2015. Maddie was battling Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, or DIPG. It is a devastating, aggressive brain tumor that impacts children.
DIPG is the same cancer that Salinan Chloe Watson Feyerherm battled. After losing Chloe, her mother Heidi founded an organization in memory of her daughter. The Love, Chloe Foundation was founded to offer financial support to families in Central Kansas that have a child battling cancer. Heidi is connecting with “Team Maddie” while they are in Salina.
Along the way “Team Maddie” has temporarily lost Shumaker to an Achilles injury. After taking a little time off to recover, he plans to rejoin the riders when they leave Salina on Thursday.
“Team Maddie” has also picked up a couple of riders along the way. Tom and Rob, a couple of buddies from Australia were visiting San Francisco. Through a mutual friend they met, the friends heard what “Team Maddie” was doing. They decided to catch up and join in the coast-to-coast bicycle journey.
The guys live day to day, town to town. They wear brightly colored matching team shirts, and bring tents with them. They say they have slept “about everywhere you can imagine.” Some nights churches, and even kind people will open their doors, and their hearts, and give the guys a place to sleep indoors.
Both of the Australians say that they have been overwhelmed by the kindness of people across America. Along with offering places to stay, strangers have showed support in many other ways. They say it’s not uncommon for complete strangers to offer to pay for their meals in restaurants.
Combined, the group will be riding about 16,000 miles. Their goal is to raise $1 per mile, or $16,000.
To keep updated on “Team Maddie” and their adventures on their “Ride For DIPG”, and to make a donation, you can follow them online at https://ridefordipg.wordpress.com/.