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Vermont Hills "Invaded" by Team Sarcoma

Posted by Julie Royster (juliecontent) on Dec 31 2008
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It was not your usual sight…about 50 bicycle riders traversing the hilly terrain of Vermont back in July. Though some might have been tempted, with tongue in cheek, to opine that they must have been some Tour de France riders who made a wrong turn on the outskirts of Paris, they were actually more like the “Tour Pours GIST”. For these riders were not biking for national fame, a record or a yellow shirt, these white-shirted pedalers were riding to raise money for sarcoma research.

The Team Sarcoma Ride was a product of The Liddy Shriver Sarcoma Initiative. The late Liddy Shriver was a victim of the deadly disease and parents Bruce and Beverly Shriver of New York State created the research-funding organization to keep their daughter’s memory alive and to generate funds so that other parents would not have to see their children, or other family members, die for lack of effective treatment.

Two Florida GISTERS were among that dedicated group of cyclers from about a dozen different states and nine countries. Brad Clark of Estero and Steve Schwann of Stuart, both in the southern part of the state, starting raising money specifically for GIST research as early as April and their over-$5000 collective contributions through pledges have been committed specifically to GIST research, while the remainder of the funds raised by the ride will underwrite research for a variety of sarcomas. The money will go to university-connected facilities determined by a panel of medical doctors best able to know where the greatest need exists.

The photo above shows Brad and his wife Karen, plus daughters Rachel and Rebecca on the final day of the Tour.  “We traveled about 180 miles in some of the hilliest country I’ve seen,” said flatlander Clark, “and most of the time it was cold and wet, certainly not the Florida weather we were used to in July”.

The tour began in Burlington and wound up in Hero, Vermont, followed usually by four vans as ‘backup’ and for emergencies. But except for a minor fall by Brad, there were no injuries on the tour, cut short by concerns that tumbling down a mountainside in wet weather was not an ideal scenario.

The most inspiring memory from the tour was when the riders took a break at Stowe, Vermont and were met by a middle-aged GISTER who had never spoken to another GIST patient, knew nothing about GSI, and simply wanted some conversation with others who have ‘travelled his path’. Newspaper coverage in advance gave him the opportunity he seized.

Fifty-year-old Bill Otzel went to the Von Trapp Family Inn where the riders were breaking and was thrilled to share two days worth of idea exchange with Brad and Steve. Otzel had a 19cm GIST removed in 2005 and chose a naturopathic route to health rather than Gleevec, with apparently effective results.

Family members of those lost to various sarcomas were frequent visitors to the group when they stopped, anxious to voice their support as well as frustration. The six-day ride ended in Hero on July 22, a ride led mostly by a young Danish athlete and sarcoma survivor, but which also included a 9-year-old Utah girl, a whole family from Spain, a little lad from Mexico who accompanied the tour in a van, and several representatives of European or Asian countries, some who didn’t even speak English.

Here is a quote from Brad after completing Sarcoma Tour 2007:

"Yesterday I completed the Liddy Shriver tour representing Team GIST along with Stephen Schwan, another GIST patient. Our experience was nothing short of incredible as we had the opportunity to interact with other people who had been touched by sarcoma from around the world. We also heard lectures from two sarcoma researchers and dizcovered how devastating sarcoma can be for young people. In addition a GIST survivor read about the event in the local newspaper and visited with us for 2 afternoons. He had never met another person with GIST. In all I biked 176 miles, certainly not the PTMR, but between the rain and terrain I still felt a sense of accomplishment. I will say that the daily hilly rides actually reduced my fatigue and puffiness. In reality I felt great during the ride. I wish to thank GSI for all the support and encouragement and highly recommend Team Sarcoma as an organization. Bruce and his family are true warriors for the cause and I have learned that there is much that could be done collectively to battle this disease."

It is not too late to support of Team GIST!
Make out the check to FJC.
Write "GIST, Liddy Shriver Sarcoma Initiative" on your check's "memo" line.
Mail to:
Liddy Shriver Sarcoma Initiative
17 Bethea Drive
Ossining, NY 10562-1620

Last changed: Dec 31 2008 at 2:27 PM

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