Cycling To Cure A Son of Cancer

A Father’s quest to cure his son of cancer takes him on an uphill and often painful journey, but he would have it no other way.

It’s a count of nearly 1,200 days of pilltaking, 38 months of treatment and 43 trips to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta for Eli Polk, a six-year-old who was diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia in January 2007. But for his father, Ray, the long and winding road of Eli’s treatment is only the beginning of a journey which promises hundreds of miles more to travel in his quest to fund a cure for childhood cancer.

At the same time Eli is scheduled to complete his chemotherapy treatment this March, Ray will begin a journey of his own – on a bicycle, competing in three cycling series: The North Georgia Brevet Series sponsored by Audax Atlanta; The Georgia Cup Time Trial Series, and The Georgia State Games.

“Having witnessed the remarkable courage Eli has shown through, at times, immeasurable pain, it’s only fitting that I cycle through several events that promise to be long and sometimes painful as well,” says Polk. His goal is to raise money through donations per event or pledges per mile throughout his events in 2010 to support CURE Childhood Cancer which, according to Polk, has been at every turn in Eli’s intense cancer treatment.

“CURE’s commitment to children with cancer is nothing short of remarkable,” Polk notes. “Through its efforts to fund groundbreaking research, clinical trials and challenge the status quo, children like Eli have a better chance of being cured of this wretched disease.”

Indeed. For the last three years, despite an unprecedented fundraising climate, CURE Childhood Cancer has raised and donated more than $1 million each year, $3.2 million total, to the Aflac Cancer Center and Blood Disorders Service of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Emory University to fund clinical research.

Commenting on Polk’s commitment to cycle towards a cure for pediatric cancer, Kristin Connor, Executive Director of CURE Childhood Cancer remarks, “Ray shares our vision that only through research can we hope to find a cure for childhood cancer in our lifetime. He has chosen a way to honor Eli and all children who face the extraordinary challenge of living with cancer that will make an indelible impact on our ability to continue to fund clinical cancer research. We are so proud of Ray and appreciative beyond words,” says Connor.

Polk will be riding in at least 12 events this year, primarily in North Georgia, where cycling can be grueling, navigating steep hills and winding paths. The North Georgia Brevet Series includes three events that are not actual racing events, but rather a test of cycling endurance where riders compete against the weather and a challenging route, in addition to the clock, but not with the goal of beating the other cyclists.

The Georgia Cup Time Trial Series, known as the “Race of Truth” features seven separate events. Consequently, an individual time trial (ITT) is a road bicycle race in which cyclists race alone against the clock, allowing for intervening starting times for all participants. The rider with the fastest time is declared the winner. Polk will be competing in the first of seven Georgia Cup Time Trial events this year beginning in March.

The Georgia Games, an Olympic legacy, held in July, is an Olympic-style Sports Festival designed for all ages and levels of skill.

“It’s my way of driving the point home that we owe it to our children to fund research and eradicate this disease,” adds Polk. “If a pair of sore knees and thighs can raise money to cure childhood cancer, I’ll ride my bike as far as it takes me. Let’s face it, Eli and other children just like him have endured far more.”

To help support Ray Polk in his quest to cycle to a cure for childhood cancer, go to his fundraising site at http://www.firstgiving.com/rideforeli, or email him at raymond.polk@gmail.com. You can also go to http://www.curechildhoodcancer.org for more information or contact Kristin Connor at 770-986-0035 or kristin@curechildhoodcancer.org.

In 2010 Ray Polk will be competing in the following events to raise money for CURE Childhood Cancer:

•    March 13th Georgia Cup Time Trial-Perry, GA
•    March 20th Georgia Cup Time Trial-Union City, GA
•    March 27th Georgia Brevet Series-200 Km
•    April 10th Georgia Cup Time Trial-Chickamauga, GA
•    April 17th Georgia Brevet Series-300 Km
•    May 8th Georgia Brevet Series-400 Km
•    May 15th Georgia Cup Time Trial-Gainesville, GA
•    May 29th Georgia Brevet Series-600 Km
•    June 12th Georgia Cup Time Trial-Rome, GA
•    June 26th Georgia Cup Time Trial-Dahlonega, GA
•    July 11th Georgia State Games Time Trials
•    July 31st Georgia Cup Time Trial-Adairsville, GA

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