1,700 miles and counting for cancer prevention

By Matt Milner

Water is spraying from the fountain at Point State Park. Clouds dot the blue skies in Pittsburgh and our team of four riders are brimming with excitement. I press the red button on my phone screen, and we are live, sharing our departure with folks that follow us on social media. There is a high school field trip next to where we are standing. Some of the kids with big smiles get into our camera shot and the ride begins. 

Over the next five days, we traveled on our bikes from the Steel City to the nation’s capital—a 340-mile trek on gravel and dirt paths that meander through the beautiful countryside of Western Pennsylvania and Maryland. That was 2021. This year, our journey on two-wheels begins September 29th. Five days has been trimmed to four and our group of four cyclists has grown to eight.  

The Champion Awareness bicycle ride aims to honor cancer survivors, remember those that have lost their lives, thank medical providers and promote cancer prevention and early detection. 

Taken from last year’s ride, the guys in the photo above (from left-to-right) are Jesse, Carl, Matt (me), and Adam. This year we are joined by another fantastic four: Arlen, Chip, Kyle, and Frank.

My name is Matt. I started this ride in 2016 after a friend was diagnosed with lymphoma. He had noticed a bump on his arm and sought advice from doctors. After a few consultations, he received his diagnosis and started radiation treatment. I remember being scared, holding back tears and being at a loss. But his strength and perseverance to fight and win the battle shaped the goals of this event

Each day we spend about six hours pedaling to the next destination. For me, I listen to the birds singing, look at the beautiful canopy provided by the trees and follow the river as it guides us forward. The banter that goes back and forth between everyone is gold. And then there are times where there is just quiet. These are the times I think about the importance of friends and family, how I miss people that have passed away from cancer and gain a sense of closeness with people that we are honoring during the ride. The profound sense of connection during each day of the ride makes it special to me.

We appreciate the support from the Prevent Cancer Foundation. Over the years, this great organization has provided us with educational materials and resources to share with people we meet along the ride. The Foundation provides us a platform to assist with their vision and empower the goals of the Champion Awareness ride.   

“See something. Say something.” It’s a motto that I believe is the essence to early detection. And if you see us on the trail, we’ll say “Hi.” See you out there.

Interested in hosting your own fundraiser to benefit Prevent Cancer Foundation? Here’s how:

  1. Go to www.youcanpreventcancer.org to create your personal fundraising page.
  2. Share that page with your friends and family!