NORTH COUNTY — A trio of locals is getting set to embark on a bicycle journey of a tad over 200 miles in a fundraising effort to fight breast cancer.
More precisely, explains Atascadero resident Monica Hollenbeck, to raise awareness of long-term programs for patients and survivors. Tour de Pink [TDP] is a fully supported, multi-day charity bike ride that raises money for Young Survival Coalition. That is they’ll have support from follow vehicles, meals and places to stay along the way.
The program focuses on those diagnosed before the age of 40 and offers conferences, information and groups for that demographic.
Although, adds Hollenbeck, she was 44 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, the groups still helped her tremendously introducing her to a plastic surgeon she used in recovery. Now 50, she’s in training for her fourth ride saying that the 100 miles a week she’s been riding in preparation give her a daily purpose.
Joining her this year are Templeton resident Paul Munoz, a family friend and San Luis Obispo Deputy Sheriff who’s taking time off for his second ride, and Paso Robles resident Jennifer Fanning, a cancer survivor making her first such ride.
The TDP West Ride will be held Oct. 26-28. Riders will have the metric and century route options on Day 1 from Thousand Oaks to Santa Barbara, a loop in the Santa Barbara area on Day 2, then cycle the coastline on Day 3 to a finale celebration at Point Mugu State Park in Malibu.
As with many such rides, there’s a kind of pledge drive aspect to the event. While the three locals are going as a team they have individual fundraising websites at:
west.ysctourdepink.org/PaulMunoz, west.ysctourdepink.org/JenniferFanning and west.ysctourdepink.org/monicahollenbeck.
The money goes both to support the costs of the rides and the conferences and other programs, Hollenbeck notes that when she was a recent survivor she got help with hotel and travel expenses and for this ride, the organization even got Fanning a new bike.
Options available to riders include a shorter 100 mile “century ride” and a one-day ride and they can take advantage of training support and coaching.
“Ours is about 200 people and around 50 of us are survivors,” Hollenbeck adds, noting that a great deal of the meaning comes from raising awareness that young people can and do get diagnosed with breast cancer. “There’s no such thing as too young,” and that many of the riders are there for someone who can’t be, either because of illness or untimely deaths.
“It’s a truly emotional experience and we’re there for eachother,” she said, relating a story about riding behind a man who was carrying a bag of his daughter’s ashes on the trip.
There’s a shared experience for Fanning, Hollenbeck and other survivors as well, in the never completely knowing that the cancer has gone, “that fear sticks with you,” she said, “all we can do is let others know we’re here.”